So here we are on the eve of my our last Sunday in Stanford in the Vale. In a week's time we will sitting or sleeping in our new home in Grove. I have to say we've had quite a party today. Up until midday it was work as usual. Then it was the great painting party. Not quite paintballing. Actually a whole lot of our friends descended on our house in Grove, armed with brushes, rollers, dust-sheets and old clothes. It was like an interior version of Groundforce. By 5 o'clock they'd transformed the tired decor into a pristine new look, as well as enjoying Jane's legendary soups and tiffin. Fantastic! My part was mainly to entertain the troops with demonstrations of the lift in operation and to sit amidst the dustsheets giving general encouragement. The difference from Groundforce or similar programmes is that our friends were not paid. They were just being church, i.e. caring for each other. Thank you, friends.
I have to say it's not just church people who are kind. Just this morning a neighbour came round with a present of two inscribed wine glasses. He's an atheist, but as he said in the accompanying card, 'We may see the world differently, but I think we see people the same!... My heartfelt best wishes.' We'll often drink his health in them, I'm sure.
And tomorrow are my last services. I've chickened out of preaching, but hopefully will hold it together enough to lead the services. Not that I mind emotion in church. In fact I can't think of places more appropriate for it. There's a prayer at the beginning of the service which says, 'Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open, all desires known....' So pretence is fairly fatuous in his presence, and stiff-upper lips a touch hypocritical. It's just that losing the plot when you're steering the show is a bit embarrassing. But perhaps we shouldn't be trying to steer services; perhaps we should allow a bit more room for the Spirit. Anyway, pray for us, or wish me luck, depending on your viewpoint.