There is an old saying that only two things in life are inevitable - death and taxes! I would argue that life holds at least one other inevitable thing and that thing is change. Change happens, whether we want it to or not. Some changes come easily, but others can profound, traumatic or heart wrenching. Sometimes change happens so subtly and slowly that you just accept it and go with the flow or perhaps you don't even notice it until years later when you look back on your life. Yes, change is inevitable and it is not always bad. I am sure we can think of times when life changed for us and the change was welcome.
Yet in the life of the church, we usually resist change. We prefer things to stay the same as they have always been. Sadly, this does not always happen and, as a congregation, we have been through many changes in the past five years. Losing the use of our building was painful for everyone, as was the extended time of ‘limbo’ as we worshipped in St Andrew’s Church, not knowing if we had a future as a congregation. These changes have taken their toll on us and we have all wished things could have been different. That said, now is the time to look to the future as we prepare for another huge shift in our circumstances. We are moving out of limbo into union with New Trinity. This is a significant change, because this change is not just about us, it is about coming together in union with another congregation – becoming a new creation in Christ.
I know many of you will have questions about what lies ahead. What will it mean to be part of the united Kirkgate congregation? What kind of church will we be? What ways will we be active in our new parish community? How will we care for and support one another? As we move into union, we must all prayerfully wrestle with these questions and with many other similar ones: questions of identity, of vocation and of purpose. And, as we ponder these questions, we need to let go of the past so we can embrace the future as Kirkgate Parish Church.
This is my final manse letter as the Minister of Barony St John’s. On the 19th of November, I will be inducted as the Minister of the united congregation of Ardrossan & Saltcoats Kirkgate Parish Church. So as we move towards this union, let’s ask God to help us through this time of change. Let’s ask him to do a new thing with us, to give us new life, new possibilities and new energy for his service. We can be the church of the future if we open ourselves up to it today.
Change is coming and it will keep on coming – it is inevitable after all! As the people of God, we need to embrace change if this union is to be happy and successful. We need to embrace change if the new Kirkgate Parish Church is to share the light of God with the world.