So we celebrated my 25 years in ministry last weekend. I'm slowly recovering. First, a big thank you to all of you who were not able to be present at any of the meetings but sent greetings. it is appreciated.
On Saturday afternoon about 80 or so gathered I guess. We were made up of members of the congregation past and present, family members and other friends. My former elder Steve Mitchell kindly chaired. In the service my deacon Mike de Jong spoke appreciatively and sometimes teasing me and my ways. (I didn't know I said 'Oh man' a lot but I do). I was able to respond. I couldn't say half the things I wanted to but I will post some of what I wrote down another time. My father-in-law Geoff Thomas, who was 70 this week (congratulations!) preached. unconventionally he took the letters of my name as an acrostic and framed the sermon around that (Garwood - a reference to my first minister in Cwmbran; Aberystwyth - Where I want to university and sat at Geoff's feet; Reformed - for those who don't know; You - meaning the church in Childs Hill who called me. Boys - my sons; Reaching out; Author; Devotion Yokefellow - Eleri).
Eleri and I then cut a beautiful cake and we then had a lovely tea followed by speeches and presentations. Various people gave me cards, etc, but we were also presented with a gift from the Korean church that meets on our premises and the church. They gave us an album of photographs which we enjoyed seeing, flowers and a collection of messages some of which were read out. There was also a fat cheque and a booking for tea at the Ritz!
My mother-in-law spoke about how Eleri and I met, Mrs Eveson about my LTS days and Robert Yerby (my former church secretary who had so kindly come all the way from Guernsey) about the early days. Mike then played a series of out-takes from sermons. very funny. It's a good job I can take teasing.
It's not entirely nice to be talked about like that, a little like being at your own funeral (though cutting the cake was more like a wedding). Anyway it's nice to be appreciated I guess and I think the fact that it is all of grace did shine through - I hope so. How good is the God we adore. To him be all the glory.
Typically, in the midst of it all some fellow turned up wanting financial help. I told him there was nothing we could do at that moment and helped him to stock up on sandwiches and other goodies before escorting him away in case he got up to mischief.