The life of a Methodist Minister is certainly varied and we tend to find ourselves switching from one thing to another and back again in a short space of time. Last week was concerned with hatching, matching and dispatching – although not in that order.
On the Saturday we celebrated the marriage of Louise and Lee. It was a wonderful occasion with family, friends and the church family all gathered together to share in their special day. At the end of the service we greeted the newly married couple with applause and cheers, sending them out of the church into their new life together with enthusiasm and love.
It was a transformational moment, for in making their vows they have promised to put the other before themselves,`for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, from this day forward until they are parted by death.’ These are amazing promises for one person to make to another and we know that they will not always be easy to keep. In marriage the couple state their intention to keep trying, to hold this ideal before them and to grow together through all that life throws at them. We pray that their union will be long, happy and fruitful and thank them both for letting us be a part of such a special event in their lives – which will never be the same again.
Two and a half years ago I married another couple in another place.
I have known Christine since she was a baby, watched her grow into a lovely young woman and couldn’t have been more delighted when she met Jay (an equally lovely young man) and eventually, when they decided to get married they asked me to conduct the ceremony, which again was very special. On the Monday Christine and Jay had a baby. She kept them waiting for 16 long days, we couldn’t decide if she was going to be stubborn like her mum or laid back like her dad, but arrive she did, eventually. It was another transformational moment and Jay put on Facebook that he’d wished he’d known how wonderful it was because he’d have started earlier (… they haven’t really experienced sleepless nights yet!). Their lives will never be the same again.
Then on the Wednesday at Forest Hill we said goodbye to a very special person. Cyril was very much a part of FHMC and had come originally from St James and joined FHMC when it closed. Why was Cyril particularly special? At his funeral we heard about many aspects of his life; some that we knew nothing about and others we had heard about, but all of them were inspiring and overwhelmingly positive.
We heard about his work at a local school where he helped children who were struggling to read; he was also Grandpa to the whole school. When children had no one to come to special event he would be there; where children had no Grandparents he became a surrogate Grandpa to them, looking out for them. The tribute that the school sent to his funeral contained these words, ‘When we are sad we will remember you, and we will smile. When we have trouble we will remember you and be comforted, and when we are lonely we will remember you and we will have a friend’. Wow, this man made a difference.
At the church he was a welcomer and an encourager. Every Sunday, Cyril stood at the door before and after the service to greet everyone as they came in, there was a hand shake, a hug, or a high five depending on the age of the recipient and then there was always a word of encouragement for them as they left.
Cyril, who was 90 this year, knew everyone. He remembered names, was concerned about people’s problems, missed them if they weren’t there and then prayed in a very chatty sort of way for everyone during the week. His funeral was a transformational moment. It was as if he was saying, “Here you are, you do it now. I’ve shown you the way and done my bit, now it’s over to you. I’m handing on the baton to all of you, however young or old you are. You too can make a difference and help to transform the world around you”.
In life there are many transformational moments. Some of them are big events but others are simple, small things – a word here, a hug there, noticing those moments when people need some attention. It’s been a very inspiring week in the life of this Methodist Minister.