It is easy to become possessive and handing on our precious endeavours
for others to complete in not easy, but as St Paul reminds us, “I planted,
Apollos watered, but God gave the growth”. God’s purposes are worked
out through human links in a chain that stretches through time and into
eternity. Christian discipleship is costly because it means abandoning any
views of ourselves as in control of our destiny! Instead we are challenged
to give ourselves away, to allow ourselves to be spent for the Gospel.
Much of the ministry of Jesus was about building up the confidence of
other people and encouraging those with whom he had contact to become
more self-aware of their gifts and considerate in the community and in
When I was a young man my Baptist Minister did just that for me!
Following the service that marked his retirement he was too overwhelmed
by emotion to stand at the door to bid people farewell, so instead we went
individually into the Vestry. As I shook his hand, he looked at me and
said “this is an Elijah and Elisha moment”. In that moment something
extraordinary happened, but it was many more years before I came to
understand that he was inviting me to share in his ministry.
When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me, what can I do
for you before I am taken from you?” “Let me inherit a double portion
of your spirit,” Elisha replied. “You have asked a difficult thing,” Elijah
said, “yet if you see me when I am taken from you, it will be yours –
otherwise, it will not.” As they were walking along and talking together,
suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the
two of them and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind. Elisha saw
this and cried out, “My father! My father! The chariots and horsemen of
Israel!” and Elisha saw him no more. Then he took hold of his garment
and tore it in two. Elisha then picked up Elijah’s cloak that had fallen
from him and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. He took
the cloak that had fallen from Elijah and struck the water with it.
“Where now is the LORD, the God of Elijah?” he asked. When he
struck the water, it divided to the right and to the left, and he crossed
over. (2 Kings 2. 9-14)
You have allowed me, with Kate, Charlotte, Beatrice, Anne and Alice
to share in your ministry for five and half years. It has been a great
privilege to serve God alongside you as Team Rector of Dorchester and
The Winterbournes. Thank you!
To celebrate all we have shared together I would be delighted if you
could join me on Saturday 14th September in St Mary’s Church at 6pm
for a service that concludes my ministry and celebrates your ministry.
Thomas M. B. Woodhouse
Team Rector of Dorchester and The Winterbournes