Minister’s Letter February – March 2018

Dear friends,

Last month I attended a conference in Scotland with other ministers. Some were Church of Scotland ministers; others were from the Presbyterian Church of Ireland, while some were from the Free Church of Scotland. A small number of those I had known for a number of years and we met for further fellowship before retiring for the evening. Two of our company attended the same church as Julie and I when we lived in Dundee in the early days of our marriage. I was at the beginning of my studies for ministry; my two friends were undergraduates studying at the University of Dundee. I don’t suppose that in those days we thought we would be meeting together at a conference over twenty years later.  It was good to reminisce about the past and reflect upon the present.

Friendship is important in life and for believers friendships are uniquely enhanced through shared faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and Christian fellowship. I have a long-standing Christian friend and colleague, who has been an important companion and confident through the ups and downs of my Christian life. His advice has always been honest and he and his family have hosted me (and sometimes the family) many times over the years. During that time, we have watched our children grow up, enjoyed occasional family holidays together and been a strong support to one another over the course of our ministries.

During my ministry, I have always made friendships with people in the congregation. Ministers are human beings and they need to forge friendships with people in any congregation they have been called to serve. Making close friendships with a cross-section of the congregation over thirteen years has been an enriching part of my ministry. As time goes on the friendships grow deeper.

When we survey the life of the apostle Paul, we learn something about the friendships that he forged with his co-workers, particularly Timothy, who joined Silas and himself during the early part of the second missionary journey. It is Timothy that Paul sends back to Thessalonica, to find out how the fledgling Church is fairing.  The letter was probably written around the end of 52 AD. In his letter to the Christians in Philippi, Paul commends the ministry of Timothy to the Philippians (Phil 2: 19-24). Almost ten years later, Paul’s confidence in Timothy is undiminished and his friendship with him continues to be strong. He speaks of Timothy with warm affection. Scholars believe that Paul’s final letter, is the pastoral epistle 2 Timothy. This letter could be as late 65 AD, written during Paul’s second imprisonment in Rome, not long before his execution. In places, the letter reads like the apostle’s last will and testament, where he is handing over his ministry to Timothy. From the evidence that we have, Timothy’s friendship was clearly important to Paul.

Christian discipleship opens up new possibilities to make friendships on all kinds of levels. It is one of the many blessings of being a follower of Christ. I hope you take the opportunity to forge new friendships within our congregation in the time ahead.

Your minister and friend,