Well, the time has come. I am trying to fashion a sermon which is very important to me because it is conceivably the last one that I will preach in Aylesbury. I am working on my last draft and contemplating its delivery, which I can be sure will be a shaky affair. We'll see.
This time next week I will be a resident in Whitton. The lorry will probably be emptied by now and I will be left with a boxed-up existence and how to make it fit a new life and house. This week has been characterised by the clumsy daubing of paint on walls (and upon my person), the fitting of the first carpet that I have ever had to pay for and that interesting moment of being in one's new home alone for the first time. To date, we have had to rely on the kindness of the Whitton Clan to let us in, so we have always been on our 'best behaviour'. Yesterday, I poked around my new house properly for the first time, feeling rather naughty. For the first time I considered the wonder of the airing cupboard and pondered the accouterments that had gathered in the garage. Then I did that funny thing that I do whenever I move house (I have done that lots and lots) - and that is to lay on the lounge floor arms and legs out-stretched starfish fashion, looking up at the ceiling. Yes, I know.
Sunday will be a momentous occasion. The district churches have cancelled all their services so that we can have a Team Eucharist at St. Mary's. That is jolly nice of them, as it means that many of them will be put to considerable inconvenience to get to church (though that said, some will get a lie in). The church will be fairly well full, which in August is no small feat. I will be surrounded by an amazing group of people, all of whom share a characteristic in common - that they really have no idea how wonderful they are.
I feared my first ever sermon - but only half as much as I fear my last in this ministry. I could preach for days on end and not cover all that I wish I could say. Yes, those words would include the odd warning, but delivered that they may have life and have it abundantly. We'll see.
So, in this book that is The Ministry of One David M Cloake, a chapter draws to its conclusion. It has been a happy chapter, blessed and rich in experience and opportunity. I have walked alongside some remarkable people, some of whom have shared their last steps on earth with me. I have celebrated the new life of baptisms and the love-stories of marriages. I have been guided my a man whom I delight in now being able to call my friend, and not simply 'boss'. I have been supported by a wife of such overflowing grace and generosity that I would need more lifetimes to return it - and then there have been the Twins Aculae. Could a man be any more blessed than me?
I am not sure what more I can say. I might not be able to post much in the next few days, hence this slightly premature post. I will 'sign off' when I prepare to leave this place. Please pray for my family - this is never just about me, after all.