I have just been reading Bernard Thorogood's "A Minister's Minutes", a wonderful and personal account of a long and effective ministry. I was fascinated to journey across the world as Bernard shared some of his adventures in ministry and offered some very interesting reflections on the challenges and opportunities that the church has faced.
Like Bernard I studied at Glasgow University and then at the Scottish Congregational College when it was in Edinburgh, though in both cases the actual locations will have been different, as will our experiences in many other ways. However, a first ministry in Polynesia (him) certainly beats Ayrshire (me), (though I did have a spell in Panama a little later.) However, perhaps because of those small points of comparison, I found myself thinking of the challenges of ministry and the way in which God calls the right people at the right time - a point that comes through strongly in Bernard's account of his call back to the UK to be the General Secretary of the London Missionary Society (LMS) which, under his leadership re-structured into the Council for World Mission (CWM), and his subsequent call to be General Secretary of the United Reformed Church.
To me these "Minutes" show that life is not always easy, that ministry is fulfilling, though sometimes challenging, and that God is always with us.
As he says in his "God-Botherer's Prayer", with which the book ends: "Did you tick any of my pages, Lord? I know I won't get first class honours but could you say that I have just scraped through?"
And God says: "My child, you are always with me, come in and join the feast."