Last night was an extremely special evening for the MacPhails. Friends of ours hosted a wonderful dinner for a small gathering as an opportunity for us to say farewell before our June 3 departure for ministry in the Bahamas. The table was suitably decorated with shells and sand. Lobster was served. Good conversation was shared. Photographs were taken. Friendship was celebrated.
But, for me, the most special aspect of the evening was the prayer our host offered before the meal. This was no mere “saying grace”. Our host invited the gathered to come and lay hands on us to bless us as he prayed. I remembered that the first disciples did this in Samaria so that the believers there would receive the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:17). I remembered the apostle Paul’s reference to the time the elders (the Presbytery) laid hands on Timothy. I remembered when the ministers of Oak Ridges Presbytery laid hands on me at my ordination in January of 1998.
Moving to Nassau Bahamas feels like a new start, and so this personal re-commissioning seemed quite appropriate. It was most meaningful for us to have such close friends extend this special blessing.
One couple arrived later on in the evening and I was sorry that they missed this aspect of the evening. As we said good-bye at the door, my friend who arrived late handed me a gift and we went on our way. As soon as I got home, I opened the gift. It was a small 2nd edition book written by 19th Century theologian, Horatius Bonar, and on the inside cover my friend had written out the Aaronic blessing found in Numbers 6:24-26:
The Lord bless you and keep you,
The Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you;
The Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace.
This was the same blessing sung at my final service at St. Giles Kingsway on May 16. On that emotional day, we felt blessed as we said good-bye to our congregation here. On May 16, the blessing was connected to our leaving. What we experienced last night, felt slightly different. It felt as though we were being blessed in our going. It felt like we were being blessed, not for what we had done in the past, but for what we had yet to do.
With 12 days left before we move, I am so grateful to be able to say that I am not merely ready for Nassau, I am not merely excited for Nassau, but I am blessed for Nassau.
For everyone who has prayed for us in this transition, I sincerely thank you.