Yesterday was special for two reasons. Firstly it was Christmas Sunday traditionally honored as the Sunday before Christmas. Although no special event takes place during service on a normal Christmas Sunday service, yesterday was different for another reason. It was pastor Paul Christie final sermon to us before he leaves for his new appointment in another church in Penang. Preaching in his typical booming voice he took us to the manger where Jesus was born and how three people were affected. Joseph, the father, or rather the husband; Mary the mother and wife; and the shepherds who were the first to be told of the birth. Joseph had concerns about the child not humanly conceived by him and worried over gossips and public condemnation of his wife's 'unfaithfulness'. Mary pondered over the huge significance of the event that would made her supremely privileged and honored among mankind, the conceiver and bearer of the child who was God-sent into the world to save men and women from sin. And of course the lowly shepherds in the fields who were probably the only people in the city of Bethlehem awake at that time. Angels came upon them to proclaim the birth of Jesus Christ that would change the world forever.
After his sermon pastor Paul gave his farewell message during which he noted the many changes and improvements in the church, his family and community during his 8 years tenure as pastor. He was thankful to be leaving the church united to his successor, pastor Ronald. Towards the end he sought forgiveness for any hurt by words, action or inaction, he might have caused the church members, and in response the congregation sought the pastor's forgiveness likewise. It was a touching moment when pastor Ronald invited the family, Gladys and two sons, Silas and Lucas, to the altar area and call upon a spectrum of church leadership to step forward to lay hands and pray for pastor Paul and his family. It was a fitting sending off for a pastor we've gotten used to and learned to love and appreciate for his faithful ministry.
Earlier this month at the church's Christmas dinner participants were surprised by the announcement that pastor Paul would be leaving Seremban end of the month. Two cakes prepared by trainees of PBSNS, the job skills training centre for the learning disabled started by the church, were cut on the stage. One by the outgoing pastor and the other by the incoming one. Below is the cake cutting 'ceremony' by pastor Paul (left) and pastor Ronald (right). Although pastor Ronald officially takes over from January 1, 2013, he will effectively be in charge of the pulpit on Christmas Day service as well as during the Watch Night service in the final hour of December 31.