Tony bids farewell to Launceston…
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
This will be the last opportunity to write to you, before we retire to Taunton. I should be saying 'Goodbye', yet that does not seem enough. Its funny isn't it that we find it so hard to know what to say when we first meet people, and we sometimes stammer and make fools of ourselves worrying about that important first impression! Believe it or not, it has even been known for me to stand there in mute silence! When we have shared many things and made friends, we then go through exactly the same process in saying goodbye.
After five years, you just can't say ‘So long!’ and pack up without a backward glance - that almost smacks of what used to be known as a ‘Moonlight Flit’ - the old cart at midnight and the rubber soled shoes for the horse!
'Shalom!' is a word that can be used as a greeting as well as a farewell. It is the Hebrew word for peace, or a more accurate translation may be, "All that makes for your highest good and harmony, be with you". Peace - an absence of strife; calmness, a lack of worries, the knowledge that all is well; the peace of God that passes all understanding - be with you.
In Sierra Leone, they used to have a rather strange way of saying goodbye. They would say to us, "I do come". I must admit that I found this very confusing when we first arrived there. It was explained to me, as if to a three year old, that I would of course be coming back. This meant that another of their sayings “Only a thief would leave without saying “Goodbye”, took on a clearer meaning.
When I was in the Salvation Army, we used to say "Here's until we meet again in Glory!" which almost begs a rousing song and a toast! It has the same feel about it as the Irish parting, "May you arrive in heaven five minutes before the Devil knows that you have gone".
And so we part company at this point in time, with many memories. Our Lord told us that we must love one another as He has loved us, and also that we are to go into all the world, and make disciples of all people. We have shared together in so many things, visiting, having meals together and joining in with different social occasions, and some wonderful worship. It was in these various ways, as we shared time together in love and laughter that we broke down the barriers that we all knew existed. God has prepared us and enabled us to worship together as one.
Together over these years, we have said goodbye to many faithful stalwarts, some of them being very good friends, who in their lives pointed us to the Kingdom and gave us so much to live up to. We have seen new life in the babies born into our fellowship, children and new people joining us. So many things have happened to all of us. I would like to thank you for your love and support over the last five years, as you have built me up in my strengths, held me up in my weaknesses and comforted me in my sorrows.
Malcolm and Jude will soon be here, probably feeling the same as Elaine and I did when we first arrived, and probably exactly the same as we will be feeling at that moment in Taunton. I pray that they will also grow to love this place as we have over the last few years. I know you will continue to share the love God has given to each one of us, remembering that our calling is to build the Kingdom of God here in Launceston, and that we all have our own particular strengths and weaknesses; and can't be the best at everything, as much as we would like to be. It is true that we never know the depths of love until the hour of parting. Elaine and I say “Shalom” until we meet again, here, or in glory"
Last Updated (Wednesday, 07 July 2010 16:53)