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Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Good-bye!

This coming Sunday is my last at Calderhead-Erskine Parish Church (Shotts and Allanton) - at least for the time being - as a new minister is to be inducted (settled in, for those unfamiliar with the terminology of Presbyterianism!) on Thursday, 11th. I am truly delighted for both the congregation and Allan Brown, the new minister, and trust that God will use them in great ways to further His Kingdom in both locations. Of course, from a very selfish, personal, point of view, I wish that the vacancy had lasted just a little longer!! I am certainly going to miss many of the folks whom I have got to know so well, over the months that I have been privileged to spend with them.

However, I am reminded of something that I said on my last Sunday as the incumbent in Bellshill: St.Andrew's over thirty years ago. I pointed out that although I knew people who preferred to say 'Cheerio' when leaving someone, on the basis that 'Goodbye' was too final, the latter word is actually a much better one to use when making our farewells. That's because it is a corruption of the phrase "God be with you" - and I could think of no better wish to make than that. That's why, albeit with moist eyes, I will be saying 'Goodbye' to the folk in Shotts and Allanton. I will be commending them to the loving care of a gracious God.

So 'Goodbye' may well have an air of finality about it - but it can be the finality of wishing the greatest blessing upon those whom we love. On Sunday past, one of the ladies in Shotts handed me a sheet of paper with some words printed thereon. I reproduce them, here, (slightly amended!) in the hope that they might speak to someone's heart, and be used to draw them into the Presence of the One in Whose care I will be leaving my friends in Shotts and in Allanton.

"If the devil were to write his version of the 'Beatitudes', they would go something like this:

1. I am happy with those who claim to be Christians, but who are too tired, too busy, too distracted to spend even an hour, once a week, with their fellow-Christians - they are my best workers.
2. I am happy with those Christians who wait to be asked, and expect to be thanked - I can use them.
3. I am happy with the touchy, who stop going to church over some trivial incident - they are my missionaries.
4. I am happy with the trouble-makers - they shall be called my children.
5. I am happy with the complainers - they always have my ear.
6. I am happy with those who are bored with the minister's mannerisms and mistakes - for they get nothing out of his sermons. (Mind you, I have heard some 'sermons' out of which not even Paul could have got anything worthwhile!)
7. I am happy with the church member who expects to be invited to his/her own church - for (s)he is part of the problem instead of being part of the solution.
8. I am happy with those who gossip - for they shall cause strife and divisions that please me.
9. I am happy with those who are easily offended - for they will soon get angry, and quit.
10. I am happy with those who do not give their tithes and offerings to carry on God's work - for they are my helpers.
11. I am happy with those who profess to love God, but who hate their brother and sister - for they shall be with me forever.
12. I am happy with you who, when you read this, think that it applies only to other people, and never to you - I've got you, too!"

To read the original Beatitudes, spoken by the Lord Jesus, please go to Matthew 5:3-12. They are well worth applying to oneself!

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