Last week my Dad went for an interview for one of the central jobs in our denomination (I’d elaborate more but I’ll be honest, I don’t completely understand it) and I’m very proud to say he got it.
However, this means he will have to step down as the minister of his current congregation in Greenisland, where he’s been for the last 15 years.
I know that the congregation will be very disappointed to lose him (and it is a big loss for them), but delighted for him personally at the same time.
All of which means that my parents will be moving soon, likely to the city, and given the timescale it’s quite probable that the move might happen before I go home next, though I hope not.
We moved there in 1999, three years before I came to Edinburgh, and I’ll confess that I found it tough as a painfully shy 14-year old to fit in, though I did meet some great people who were a great encouragement to me through those times (many of whom have sadly moved on). It was great the first Sunday after we joined that the young people came and personally invited us to Petros, the young people’s group (later renamed the Big Moo! which is evidence if any were needed that sometimes democracy is not always the best choice). It was not so great that I declined the invitation on the basis that so many new people at the same time scared me.
While Dad was there, new halls were built, the houses opposite were built, demolished, built again, and demolished again and by the time I’d graduated I struggled to come to the terms with the fact “wee Emma Bell” was now just “Emma Bell” and that so many of the other young folks I’d known were getting married and moving away. The organist had been especially kind to me, and I have some very good friends now as an indirect result of knowing him. Unfortunately he, too, has moved on.
But then you can’t expect everything to stay the same. One thing I’ve been thinking of lately, mostly as a result of the fact I too am moving flat, the church move that’s going on, and my change of job earlier this year is the fact that everything changes. My parents will move out of the manse, I will move out of this flat, a different congregation will use the church building, and someone else will get my old job, and they will all create their own memories. The teacher says in Ecclesiastes:
I hated all my toil in which I toil under the sun, seeing that I must leave it to the man who will come after me, and who knows whether he will be wise or a fool?
He recognises that everything is impermanent as result of the world tainted by sin, but also that
There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment?
I ask myself in light of this whether or not I will miss Greenisland in the long term, but I guess I won’t know that until I go and visit my parents and find myself sleeping in a strange bed in a strange house. While the three years and various student holidays that I was there were not universally happy, I don’t think that my brothers and I would be the same people we are today without it, and so I will certainly choose to remember it positively.
As for my parents, I think they really enjoyed their time there and will certainly have made a lot of good friends for life. My Dad has done some great work helping to spread the gospel there and I can only pray that his successor does the same.