My first pastoral letter to you was May 1997, and we come this month to my last as your servant. It is beyond me to express adequately my thanks for your faith, your standing with me in the great cause which is the reason for the earth’s existence, the heroic Christian discipleship and loving friendship which you have shown these fourteen years. As I said about you at my farewell speech at Presbytery, if ever a congregation kept the fourth vow of membership – for the Saviour’s sake to give a fitting proportion of your time, talents and money for the church’s work in the world – Sandyford has. He’s a fortunate man who pastors Sandyford.
I write not as though this discipleship of yours is a past event. Notwithstanding the disarray in the Kirk which means a delay before you can call your next minister, the next 18 months could be a time of special blessing for Sandyford and I believe it will be. What it will call for from you is a cast-iron commitment to make this period not one of waiting, and certainly not of trying less hard, but of continuing to stand with the work, to plan for its progress and to seek God in prayer for the honour of his Son through your worship, your welcome and your outreach.
The elders of a church cannot but set its tone, especially at a time of so-called vacancy (but Jesus isn’t leaving!). But each of you is also accountable to take responsibility for it. More than usually, commit yourself to enjoy and honour Jesus each Sunday, to pray for the preacher for the day, to come in the attitude ‘I will see what God the Lord will say to me’, to be friendly to one another and hospitable to the steady stream of strangers we are privileged to have visiting.
Pray also for the Presbytery Committee planning the distribution of ministries in the Glasgow area. Pray for a quick (well, by Presbyterian standards quick, which means next Jan/Feb at the earliest) decision to give Sandyford permission to form a ‘nomination committee’ as it is now called, and call your next minister. It is very likely that – along with every new call from now on – that ministry will be subject to review after 5 years.
I commend you to God and to the message of his grace which between them are well able to go on building Sandyford. In that regard I have just one special thing to say: live justified, with a sense of being assuredly in the right with God: your sins and guilt totally pardoned and left behind as water under the bridge, no longer an issue, and you yourselves righteous in his sight thanks to Jesus. He’s a great Saviour! If people at work on Monday ask why you look so happy, tell them!
Liz and I thank you for your love, and will pray for your place in God’s purposes.
Peter and Liz WhiteView All Letters