This is not the Rector’s Letter but an opportunity for the ex-Rector to say an enormous ‘THANK YOU’. I could put the words into capitals, print them large and bold and they would still not be able to say ‘thank you’ sufficiently or well enough.
What a great occasion Dedication Sunday at St. John’s was –especially for me. It brought together so many memories and thanksgivings for almost 16 years of sharing together in the pilgrimage of life. Life as Rector of Newbold has been a privilege and a joy – so leaving it behind on 4th October was a rare mix of emotions. It was a wrench to leave Newbold Parish Church but there was a recognition too that the time had come for retirement. It was so sad to say farewell to so many friends and colleagues but a joy to remember all that we shared together. There were so many thanksgivings but mixed with stepping out into a very different future. Indeed, past, present and future were all vying for prime position in our thoughts and conversation.
So many people came to share my last service as Rector. Folks came from previous churches in which I have served, from Churches Together in Newbold, neighbouring churches, and the big surprise of my family arriving too, some having set off at 4.30am to be at Church on time. I had all on to keep myself together! The service itself was wonderful as we worshipped God in the context of the Eucharist (a Greek word meaning ‘thanksgiving’) and many people commented on how much they had enjoyed being part of it – some saying, “You turned the church into a cathedral”. Thanks to everyone who played a part in making it so.
Then followed the ‘farewell’ in the Eagle Club. So many touching comments made by so many people. Tears flowed too! So many cards from individuals and from organisations, with wonderful, moving and unexpected comments, prayers and good wishes. The generous gifts (How did you know I enjoy a glass of good wine?) and the generous cheque. Jesus said that his disciples would be known by the love that they have for one another. Christian love was so evident on this day as it has been experienced throughout my time as Rector of Newbold. Thank you for everything we have shared together from the bottom of my heart and for making my last day one that I shall remember for the rest of my life.
As I was sorting/packing this week, a prayer dropped out of a booklet. It was a request from a couple for me to use at their wedding. It seemed very appropriate for me to offer it to God for you as I take my leave.
Be pleased, O Lord,
To remember my friends,
All that have prayed for me,
And all that have done me good.
Do thou good to them,
Rewarding them with blessings,
Sanctifying them with Thy grace,
And bringing them at last
To Thy glory.
Prayer of Jeremy Taylor 1613-67, Chaplain to King Charles 1 during the Civil War.
May God bless you always,
Fr. Nigel Johnson