My final assembly posting is a preview of the piece which Mark Woods [Editor] asked me to write on “My Assembly” for the Baptist Times which comes out next Thursday…
I have been coming to assemblies for 37 years, since my teens [it’s a family tradition] It felt as if everyone else was much older. Things were so different back then; all the men wore suits, most ladies wore hats, and sessions were quite formal, worship meant hymns sung to the accompaniment of the organ in Westminster Chapel. This week, I arrived in a full set of motorbike leathers, having ridden pillion up the M6 – listening to the Royal Wedding on Radio 4, through earbuds inside my crash helmet, singing along to the hymns. And around me, people are dressed informally, the music is diverse and lively, and there are people of every age- from newborns to folk in their nineties. The whole Baptist family in glorious diversity.
What will I take away as memories of this particular assembly? It has been my first time on the Prayer Team, and it has been an amazing privilege. Some people have said “can you pray for this..” and explained their need. Others were too choked up to explain, and I just had to trust God for the right words to say – but afterwards they said “That was exactly the issue I needed prayer for!”
The other thing I have enjoyed is meeting so many people and hearing their stories of how God has blessed them; the young woman happily telling me of her wedding plans; the elderly single lady who nursed her mother for years till she died, and then felt useless, but through a neighbour’s kindness went to church, found faith, and an unexpected new purpose, helping with a Mums and Toddler group; the Pastor’s spouse, anxious about moving to a new church, but the right job for her came along quite unexpectedly. Others have spoken of difficulties, and there has been time to hug and to encourage. For me, Assembly is like a great big family reunion, under the watchful eye of our loving Father. I’d like to think I will still be coming in another 37 years [but then I will be in my nineties!]
Here’s me with a Very Special Lady –Elsie is ninety years old, and comes from Romford. She knew my parents before I was born and was in my Dad’s church. She delights to tell people of the day that she looked after me when Mum and Dad were moving house. I was a toddler. She left me alone briefly, playing with my toys – and returned to find I had stripped a lot of the wallpaper from her lounge walls![I have always caused havoc] It was great to see her again at Assembly, her mind as sharp as ever, even if her wobbly legs mean she needs a wheelchair.
It has been a good assembly – now to get on the bike and go home, re-energised, to be Kingdom Builders there.