On 1st of July, I would have completed four years of ministry as Vicar here. There is much that Jennifer and I can be thankful for. We have been warmly welcomed by each of you. We have found new friends and made new acquaintances. PCC and lay leaders have been supportive. My fellow clergy, deaconesses, pastors and staff have worked well together in a season of change which is not always easy to navigate.
The ministry, calling and life here is very rich. There is a wonderful co-ownership of the calling and ministry responsibilities here. While I have to provide leadership in some areas, very often it is about permissioning, as many of you have become vision-bearers in your area of gift or influence.
Some changes have been visible. Such as, the cafe, the new position of the sound console in the Nave, the new eleven:30 Service, dropping the 7.30 pm Service, the refurbished organ pipes and bells, the new Pavilion (under construction) etc. Communications have been kept current with a new look bulletin, website, active social media, an SAC app, etc.
New ministries include the dynamic eleven:30 service where young people are leading and vision-bearing, the new thrust in heritage work with the new Heritage Committee, a "delicious" Food Ministry, DCBS and Faith and Life tracks, Cathedral Podcast, the Befriending Migrant Workers ministry, the ministry to the Homeless, a new Family Life Ministry and the latest kid on the block, the Tamil Service. The renewed Intercessors Ministry has also played a key role as we sought the mind of the Lord together. They have helped host some milestone intercession events. Creative Arts, music and worship in both the Nave and CNS have been refreshed as well. Every Christmas@Cathedral was eventful. We have had some memorable and inspiring concerts and recitals in the Nave, some by our own choirs and members, others from without. And of course, this year’s Celebration of Hope was a milestone experience for SAC, and the effects are still reverberating.
We can be thankful for every area that we sense has been refreshed, growing or showing signs of life and fruitfulness.
Some changes or growth signs are less visible and indeed difficult to measure. Are we more loving as a community? Are we more welcoming? Are we more mission or evangelism minded? Are we more prayerful? Are we more open to the work of the Spirit? Areas that are less tangible or measurable can be very important.
And have there been mistakes, a weakening or reversals? There are not a few, as we reflect back. Lessons can be learned. And yet, we should not lose our joy when things are less than perfect. I am sure I have made leadership or pastoral mistakes or been found wanting in some areas. You may know some. The Lord certainly knows - all. We continue to allow His grace to work within our lives, transforming us into His likeness day by day. I have said in my first message shared at the Camp in 2015, that I hope I will continue to grow as a Christian as I journey with this new family and find mutual encouragement. Indeed, I have.
Some clergy and staff have moved on. Some have retired. Some are serving in a different season as auxiliary clergy. And a few have returned home to the Lord. Just recently, we bid farewell to Chay Sing Wah, a long standing and active member here. Saying goodbye is always difficult.
I often ponder on the seasons shared together and friendships experienced. I am reminded of some of the lyrics from Wayne Watson’s “A Season in your Path”:
I guess God alone deciphers
When people need each other most
Who will be the blessed receiver
And who will be the gracious host
And all a servant here can do
Is unto the Lord avail
Content at times to be the wind
And at times to be the sail
Some old memories make me cry
Remembering the good times makes me laugh
But all inall I'm richer
For the happy and the sad
And I'm thankful for a season in your path.