Finally, it is over. I feel I have been slogging over books and a keyboard for nearly two months solid. My sermon prep has been squeezed and my family has borne the brunt of a fair degree of unreasonableness on my part. I am extremely grateful for their patience. Yesterday, at last, I had my last exam, in Hebrew. It went better than I expected so I was quite pleased. Now, I can relax.
Well, except for one thing. I had hoped that that would be that and I could graduate this Summer. However, I had completely forgotten about an outstanding assignment from my church planting placement two years ago. I have to complete it. I only remembered it when there was no chance of getting it done on time for the final college exam board at the end of this month. This means that I will have to do it over the summer and graduate in December instead. It's not a problem, but it is annoying. I would have liked to get my degree out of the way once and for all.
It will be a time of change in the near future. I finish my attachment to Derwent Free Church at the end of the month. I can't believe I have been there almost two years! I have learned a great deal, both good and bad, about myself, preaching, pastoring, leadership. There have been some blessings and encouragements. However, I cannot but be disappointed that the church has not developed and grown to the degree I would have liked. But this itself is a lesson: it is Christ's church, and he is answerable to no-one. He has his own purposes and plans which he graciously calls us into. We answer to him and we must learn to be faithful and humble.
In July I will start working with Al Lutz at Solihull Presbyterian Church. God willing, I will be taken under care by the EPCEW presbytery in the near future and we will work towards licensure, ordination etc. etc. over the next year. Initially, I will travel to Solihull from Derby, a 50-minute drive, a few times a week and our family will attend worship there on Sundays.
I have some concerns about ministry at a distance. One thing my attachment at DFC has taught me is that to live with the people is essential to effectively being missionaries to them, but it does not seem sensible to do it any other way at the moment. However, with Al and his wife Julie 'on the ground' and me parachuting in for a while, I hope we can see some progress with God's help.
Your prayers much coveted for me, my family, the work of mission.