In the business of theology it is hard not to be controversial - Jurgen Moltmann

Sunday, 4 July 2004

The Minster Retires

Paul King wept.
It is the last day of service, the last Sunday worship, the last communion, the last sermon preached. The minister of Nicholson Square Methodist Church is retiring after serving 11 years in this church. A couple of weeks ago there were already a farewell lunch gathering (which I did not join but heard that it was overwhelming) and a Sunday evening dialogue (which I did join). Still, it has been an emotional moment today, especially toward the end of the service when the choir sang a very touching tone after the benediction.
Finally over the tea and coffee, Paul had to take out his handkerchief to wipe his tears after saying his final words of thanks and receiving gifts.

Paul brilliantly preached on John 8:1-11 (Jesus forgave a woman caught in adultery) and 1 Cor 1: 10-25 (Paul, Peter, and Apollos).
John 8: the tension between being strict on things and being more accepting toward human weakness yet maintaining discipline – ‘I don’t condemn you, but don’t do it again’.
1 Cor 1: great analogical play of the ministers own names: don’t get caught up in personality cult – neither Paul (King) nor Peter (the incoming new minister) matters, but God. Don’t even be caught up with the personality cult of Jesus.
When he came 11 years ago, Paul said, there were about 155 – 160 people in the church. Now there still are. In the tide of church attendance decline in the whole UK, he is thankful for this. Also he is thankful for baptising a new member today. How about that! I bet British churches today do not often see people being baptised. What a surprise. But it’s intriguing that they do not use water in the whole liturgy.
(taken from my personal journal > 4 July 2004)

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