TO retire or not to retire – that is the question.
God willing, I plan to retire as minister of Innerleven East Parish Church on Sunday, March 18, after almost 37 years in the one church.
But why have I remained as minister of the same congregation and parish for so long?
Quite simply, I believe that is where God has wanted me to be all those years.
For, looking back over all the events and happenings that have taken place, it would seem to make sense that I have been given the privilege of being there to give much-needed encouragement and support to members and parishioners through all the storms and stresses of life.
Recently, in the company of my colleagues, I attended my last assemblies as a chaplain at Kirkland High School and Community College. My fellow chaplains asked me what changes I had noticed over the years attending school assemblies.
My reply was I felt that, nowadays, the pupils were more open-minded and had a genuine desire to discover just what life is all about and where Jesus fits in.
Something else they asked me was what I was most looking forward to. My reply was not being always on call.
For when I do retire, there will be another minister appointed to look after the church and parish, namely the Rev Ken Froude, minister of Kirkcaldy St Bryce Kirk. As a result, any baptisms, weddings or funerals, or any other pastoral matters will be his responsibility.
However, I won’t be retiring as chaplain at Cameron Hospital until the end of March and, for the present, it is my intention to continue as chaplain to the Methil and District Sea Cadets.
Of course, when you retire from being a minister, you need to move out of the manse, the house which belongs to the church, and find yourself a new home. But did you know all of us have more than one house?
For God has built you a simply wonderful home for your heart.
For, just as you need an ordinary home to care for your body, you also need a spiritual home to care for your soul. For it is not God’s plan for your soul to be homeless.
Instead, he is eagerly waiting for you to take up residence in his house. But why does God want you to share his home?
Because at the end of the day, he’s your Father in heaven and he wants to look after you.
Yet, he doesn’t just ask you to live with him; he actually asks you to live in him.
For, in fact, God lives within each of us in the person of the Holy Spirit. For God the Holy Spirit is the God who is at work within us.
And so we find God himself is our roof, that God himself is our wall, that God himself is our foundation.
Even the Psalmist knew this for, as he says in Psalm 90 at verse 1: ‘O Lord, you have always been our home.’
What a marvellous thought! God as our home. But how is that possible?
Jesus reminds us of that possibility in the story he told of the prodigal or the lost son.
This son had been willing to stop being a son when he left home with his inheritance. But the father was not willing to stop being a father.
The son was out of his father’s house but never out of his father’s heart. All he had to do was to admit to his father how wrong he had been.
And this was exactly what he did when he returned home and his father warmly welcomed him.
And what Jesus wants us all to realise is that God treats everyone of us like that loving father.
In fact, God is not willing to stop being your Father.
What is more, there’s nothing better he would like than for you to have your soul live in his home forever.
Rev Jamie Templeton is the minister of Innerleven East Church in Methil and he writes for the East Fife Mail.