September marks the beginning of another Methodist Connexional year. We may well wonder where the last twelve months have gone, such is the manner in which time marches on. Time is one of those factors of life which we cannot alter or postpone, but perhaps it brings us to an inevitable sense of looking back. For me this year will be significant because it will be my last as a Presbyter Minister. In twelve month’s I shall be, “sitting down” to use the peculiar Methodist terminology to describe those of us who are due to retire. I have, in one form or another, been in full-time Christian ministry for 38 years and now I enter my last.
It is sometimes those “last times” which figure deeply in our more reflective moments. I’m aware that this is the last year we will spend in the manse. Every Sunday service I now take at those significant times in the Church’s calendar - i.e. Harvest, Remembrance, Christmas, Easter, Pentecost, including certain others will be my last as an employed circuit minister. Sometimes I wonder what I will do with myself, but no doubt Debbie will have a host of jobs, and when the time comes she just might let me loose on some of them under the necessary supervision! Perhaps there are times when you too are given over to ponder last times, and no doubt they will be both happy and poignant.
Christ Himself knew all about last times, but they were always infused with hope for the future and not simply an end in themselves. An interesting title given to Him is found in Revelation, the last book of the Bible and it is, The Alpha and Omega” translated as, “The First and the Last” or, “The Beginning and the Ending.” On a positive note, endings can have new beginnings, new opportunities, new developments that can take us forward with fresh impetus. Last times can pave the way for first times and that can be exciting.
This will be a significant year for the circuit as the process will shortly gather momentum in the forthcoming Ministerial Stationing procedure. I simply ask you to pray for all circuits involved, and that we ourselves will look forward with hope and promise for the new beginnings which within God’s grace lie ahead.