How good it was to be back amongst you on Sunday 23rd after my time in hospital and period of recuperation. As I said to the children in the service, with the ‘bottle protector’ as the visual aid, we are all comforted by those round about; family, friends, church community and of course, the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, mentioned in the Gospels.
Can I record my thanks to all who kept all the Manse family in their thoughts and prayers, as well as the messages of encouragement both by cards and by text. I would like to say thanks also to the strength of our congregation, who in my absence kept our church moving forward, especially those who led the services in both Naseby and Kingsborough.
More hospital visits will continue and more tests, but I will take each day as it comes, as we all do, day by day in the life we lead, living in the present and in the presence of God.
I was reading recently that there is a movement in education more towards continual assessment rather than the final exam or test. Me, I loved the experience, certainly at university, of that final exam experience, the old dusty rooms and lecture theatres as I lay my sharpened pencils on the table and waited for the words, ‘You may begin.’
A student, in exam conditions, turned the question paper over, to discover that the topics he was expecting to appear in the test, were not there. He sat there, scratching his head, chewing his pencil and perspiring and then came up with an idea. Below his name and the title of the subject, he drew two circles and then wrote ‘blood’ and ‘sweat’ below them, hoping that the professor had a sense of humour and understood both what the student was going through as the time raced around the clock and the effort he had put in during the term.
The results of the exams arrived and the student wondered how the Professor had reacted to his mind going blank. He opened his answer book to find that the Professor had also drawn a circle and had written a word below it – the word, ‘tears!’
When life is challenging, we sometimes wonder if God is putting us to the test, challenging us to see if our faith and commitment is strong. Like the famous story of Job in the Old Testament, who lost everything and had his friends questioning what he had done wrong and what sins he had committed.
But Job reminded them that their theology and their understanding of the Almighty was wrong and that God did not behave that way. I think that is right. When we pray in the Lord’s Prayer, ‘lead us not into temptation’ and ‘do not put us to the test’ we don’t mean it that way.
God indeed is our Comforter and our Companion, walking with us,
We are almost in November, a time when we celebrate and give thanks for those saints who have gone before us, their life of service and sacrifice for the faith and the world are recognised. We give thanks to these people, tested in their own way and in their own time. May we remember what others have done for us and helped us through to make our days that bit better.
Your friend and minister,