Finally, brothers and sisters, farewell. Put things in order, listen to my appeal, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.
Reflection – Future Proof!
So Paul signs off his letter. Soon I will be signing-off my ministry. It was 18 months ago, I clearly heard God warn me not to start any new plans or projects my successor would have to follow through – instead strengthen the team, and ensure this is a safe place for new things to happen once I have gone. I hope to heed Paul’s advice and put everything in good order. With all the diversity of views and opinions, we cannot agree with everyone, and may profoundly disagree, but we are bound in unity by Jesus.
Whenever we say our goodbyes, leave school or college, move house, change job, come out of hospital, we pray those we leave behind, or go separate ways, will be safe and well. This is summed up in the Hebrew word “Mizpah”, said as Jacob and Laban say goodbye, “May God watch over you!” Paul doesn’t just pray this is so, but knows it in his very being, that whatever happens, we will be safe in God’s hands! He knows it because he has received into his life “the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit.” I too know that all will be well as my life, and the life of the Church I leave behind changes again. This is why at every change of ministry I have asked to be sung “St. Patrick’s Breastplate”, the prayer of the saint, as a hymn written by Cecil Alexander. Receive these words and know your life is ‘future proof’.
Christ be with me, Christ within me, Christ behind me, Christ before me, Christ beside me, Christ to win me, Christ to comfort and restore me. Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ in quiet, Christ in danger, Christ in hearts of all that love me, Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.
I bind unto myself today the strong Name of the Trinity, by invocation of the same, the Three in One, and One in Three. Of whom all nature hath creation, eternal Father, Spirit, Word: praise to the Lord of my salvation, salvation is of Christ the Lord. Amen
The Rev’d Kevin Watson, Moderator of the Yorkshire Synod