This Sunday we celebrate with the community of St George’s Memorial Chapel in Crownthorpe as they farewell Father Bill at his final Remembrance Sunday service. Father Bill has served Crownthorpe and Puketapu for many years now, and this conclusion marks a significant moment in letting go of something he has invested his life into. People who genuinely get involved in ministry inevitably invest their life in it.
Those moments are always powerful as they help us to reflect on what all that investment has been for. Have we done what we felt called to do. What that calling is can be very different for different people and clergy. It is also where we can easily lead ourselves down winding tracks. I know many clergy who would say their job is to lead a community-based social services organisation. Other people name ministry as a kind of link between history and the present through a continuation of tradition. Others still would speak of ministry as a kind of grassroots social worker - embedded in a community. There is truth in each of those descriptions, but problems tend to develop when we fixate on one of them. The ministry, in fact the life of the church, can be all of those and so much more. But it can be all of those things not because of the people involved, but because of the gospel story we carry. It is the gospel of Jesus Christ that heals, connects, supports and builds up.
While I am still a few years away from the moment Fr. Bill meets this Sunday, my prayer is that when I come to that day I can say I did all in my power to ensure people heard and responded to that gospel message and met Christ, the Son.