Monday 3 June 2013

Thank you, thank you, thank you for such a wonderful farewell service on Sunday. We are going out on a tidal wave of love and booze: thank you for so many bottles! Perhaps I'll give up being a vicar when I get to Wraysbury and we'll set up an off-licence instead...

I don't think any vicar can ever have had such a warm, uplifting, exciting and inspiring service. What a great atmosphere of worship, love, togetherness and awe. Elisa and I were deeply moved by sharing with so many people who have wonderfully enriched our lives. We're saying thank you for the service, but that service itself is just a reflection of all that we have shared together, the ups and the downs, over the last eleven years.

Now don't forget the things I told you. We looked at Joshua chapter 1, remember, where Moses makes way because Joshua is coming! God sends a new person for a new phase, a new plan from the Lord. The old leader Moses has to make way for Joshua and for the new thing God is about to do. You are moving steadily forward as a church into the good things God has for you. So what the Lord said to Joshua, I now say to you in His name: Be bold! Be courageous! He will be with you always, He will give you every place where you set the sole of your foot, He will never fail you nor forsake you. God has great plans for St Matthew's and you are in for some exciting times!

Secondly, we looked at some of the wonderful achievements of the past eleven years while I have enjoyed the huge privilege of being your Rector. This is not about nostalgia for the past but instead it reminds us that the same God who has been with us through those things is leading us on. Those achievements were about the future: the God who has done great things for us will continue to do so!

And they are not my achievements., They are your achievements: see a previous post on this blog where we thought about your vision, energy, enthusiasm, perseverance, the things that under the grace of God made it all happen. I'm telling you this because there is one fault I have found with in Walsall people during my eleven years of ministry to you. You put yourselves down too much! Look at all you have done, know that you are a great Church, God loves you, He has blessed you and He wants to bless you even more!

Thank you for everything. We'll never forget you! And neither will God…

With all our love,

Colin, Elisa and the Gibsons x x 

PS Be bold, be strong, do not be discouraged! For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go! Joshua 1:9.