Blackburn was not on the radar as the Area Superintendent put my name forward to a Baptist Church, in Northampton. This was much closer and I drove my motor-cycle to preach there. Obviously the congregation knew that I was a student seeking settlement - preaching with a squint. The lively congregation filled the building with all ages represented and the whole day was an encouraging one. Sadly, Carol had suffered a miscarriage and was unwell so was missing this episode.
Soon I received an invitation to preach with a view to becoming their minister. I realized that this could be it! God's will in action. The second visit included a Parade Service in which the church's Boys and Girls Brigades marched in with their colours. At the conclusion I was instructed to present appropriate flags before saying the Benediction, after which the brigades would process out. Hanging over the pulpit and communion table area was a glass lampshade. Taking the largest flag in an over generous sweep from its stand I hit this lampshade full on. Mercifully staying intact it made a significant clang while dislodging dust which gently floated down. Over mass giggling I said the Benediction - though you need to know that I maintained my dignity as best as I could.
As is the Baptist custom the church meeting conferred within a few days. Would they invite me with my obvious coordination gifts or not? I confess that I did not feel the same measure of excitement as visiting Blackburn and yet as we had kept praying we knew that excitement is not the only sign of guidance. The fact that Carol had been unable to share in these visits obviously dampened feelings too.
It still amazes me to think of the timing of what happened next. Just as I was waiting for a letter from Northampton another letter arrived. And, yes, it was from Blackburn!
Thursday, July 9, 2020
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