Hello my dear friends,
I was sorting through my old LP's yesterday and came across The Sound of Music. Do you remember the ingenious way Maria and the Von Trapp family escape by using the song, So Long, Farewell?
Well, I've been trying to think of imaginative ways - not to escape the Middlesbrough and Eston Circuit - because I could quite happily stay for the rest of my life - but to say a fitting goodbye - because this is the right time for me to retire and for you to begin another chapter in the life of this amazing Circuit. The song got me thinking about how different people say goodbye. Of course most of these famous quotes are the last words spoken before the person dies! I'm not planning on 'shuffling off' any further than Whitby!
In the Old Testament, Moses gave a long goodbye speech (Deut 33) asking that good would come to the people of Israel.
I pray that God's goodness will continue with you all.
As St. Paul finished his letter to his young friend and student, Timothy, (2 Timothy 4:7) he writes: ". . . the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith."
My whole ministry has been one of trying to tell others the good news of God's Love for them in Jesus - at times - I have failed miserably - but I want to urge you to go on sharing God's Love in every way possible.
As I thank God for all the opportunities given to me by the Methodist Church over more than 30 years, I recall the famous last words of John Wesley who spoke words of eternal hope. "Best of all, God is with me. Best of all, God is with me." As individuals, families, churches, as a nation and globally we are going through one of the most challenging experiences in peace time. Nothing seems the same - and yet - God's Love never changes - it remains constant - we can put our trust in him for whatever the future holds. As we step into what looks like an uncertain future with changes going on all around, remember, it is God who holds the future and it is God who raised Jesus Christ to life so that our future hope can be eternally in him.
I know I can entrust you, my Beloved friends, into the hands of your new Minister and Superintendent, because David will Love you and Care for you and Guide you as a shepherd, as it has been my privilege to try to do. God has new and exciting opportunities planned for us all.
Of course I couldn't end this letter without some of the last words of Our Lord Jesus; having finished his work of Salvation on the Cross, "Father into your hands I commit my spirit."
What better way for me to retire from full time ministry, than for me to commit every person who I have ever had the joy of ministering to; every boy and girl, every teenager and every adult, whatever their age. Every happy couple, every child baptized, every tear wept and dried, every joy shared, every soul committed to God. . . I commit them and you all, my friends, into the Loving, eternal hands of God.
There were lots of plans for us to say, So Long, Farewell, but most have been scuppered by the
Covid-19 virus. However, in an attempt not to exclude anyone, on Sunday 19th July, I shall
spend the day driving around the Circuit and try to see everyone; socially distanced, of course!
(More about those plans/times later).
So, let me finish this letter trying to express my sincere thanks to all of you for being the best
Circuit in Methodism, for allowing me to be me, and for the privilege of serving you in the
Name of Christ.
Back to some words of Moses - My Blessing for you:
"The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
the Lord lift up the light of his countenance upon you and give you peace." (Num6:23-26)
With much love
Letter from our
Rev Sue Greenwood
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