Back to the Future

By Not Known

This is a message I never expected to write.

I have been a retired minister for 6 years now and the last place I expected to be, was back at ORPC. When I first received the news of a possible invitation to serve as ISM (Interim Senior Minister) for a few months, I shared it with several people. And I discovered two distinct reactions. There were those who thought ministers never retire and those who thought ministers should retire like everyone else and not return to pastoral leadership, especially in a church they had served before!

As I reflected I realised there was some truth in both schools of thought. As with all work ministers retire from their position and role with the church, but as with all of God’s people, they can never retire from the service God calls them to. Our retirement offers new possibilities and opportunities. It is not the end of the world, I have enjoyed my retirement, worshipping together in a local congregation with Lai Leng, serving in small ways like providing tea and coffee on Sunday, continuing to preach in small congregations without a minister, and having more time to reflect and pray and serve God in more relaxed ways — probably a difficult concept for busy city people to appreciate!

But as I considered God’s specific call to return to ORPC and reflected on past experiences, I also realised that God’s call though specific, is not always so clear in its purpose. I must confess God’s purpose behind the invitation was not very clear to me. But I also saw that at every stage of my ministry, God’s calling, had rarely conformed to my own feelings and wishes. At every stage there had been a good dose of human reluctance.

What I did see, however, was God’s wider calling through the church. While God’s call had never been the expected one, it always came as timely in the church situation. So when the surprise invitation came, in spite of outward adverse circumstances, it had that same combination of compulsion and church affirmation that I had experienced at previous decision points of my life.

So here we are, Lai Leng and myself back again believing that in spite of age and weakness and even being grandparents, God is still working and will work his purpose out for us all as month succeeds to month.

Derek Kingston