The Forest Kirk Uniting Church

June 2012 – Farewell from the Rev. Dr Henry Martin

Christian Ministry—I want to tell you—has been for me a huge pleasure here in this place!

At this time in my life I might not have expected to learn and discover too much more…yet the last seven plus years have been seminal for me: focussing my heart and mind on the high purposes of God and showing me, by God’s grace, very many new things!

I am hugely grateful and thankful both to you and to the Lord! Thank you for the scintillating times we’ve had together!
I could also—at about this time—be thinking about known paths and a settled arrangement… yet more and more, to me, it seems to be a time of critical preparation, even a calling to much more courage and obedience for some further task. I know it because I’m freer in myself and less afraid. And if this is so, I still could not be happier…because I want what God wants!

That applies equally well, of course, to the potential that exists, here in this place; to do things both similarly and differently, under the very strong hand of God! For to have life ‘In Christ’ is to have the privilege to shine for Him every single day! The physical location and circumstances might be said to be the secondary matter!
I mean, if we are not calling the shots the living God most certainly can be… to our great advantage!

I also feel that the strange times in which we live are incredibly significant for a people of faith. (It’s a feeling as if nothing could surprise me these days…that while so much is out of our hand, so much more is yet made possible!) I think, when God is giving us new beginnings, we’re easily able to fulfil faiths destiny, because our hearts are surrendered, willing and open!!

I suppose every journey is a religious experience, and each new beginning is the opportunity that God gives. And it’s made up of a strange confluence of unforseen people and events with converging interests and with individual endeavours; but from which—under God—comes precious growth / even priceless treasure!

There’s a line from a negro spiritual, ‘nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen…”. And as negative as it sounds…it’s actually (in the joy of faith) saying, “but God knows!!” —And the other reality  is that suffering is everybody’s lot in the world in which we live. I mention it because here in this place the sorrow and the loss of our loved ones has been—for me as well—more harrowing than anywhere I can remember! —Yet I still have to say, “I would never have imagined the measure of growth I have been given of God here in this place; and for which I am truly grateful!!

Many people assume of course that a meaningful experience will at least be pleasant … if not agreeable and unthreatening! While I seem to have found that the toughest and most unpleasant things yielded, in the end, the most important lessons! This has certainly been true for me, both in Rotary experiences and in Church experience here in this place. And I know—now more than ever—how ready our heart must be for the way in which God speaks; …and in our willingness to hear and receive His Word of truth and life!

Even a certain loneliness in this world, or even unfulfilled need, can bless the soul of man and refine our life to an extent that in the phenomenal faithfulness of God, nothing is impossible!

That’s why faith (I mean our life In Christ) is a living relationship rather that a dead religion!
It’s also why our witness (to who and what we are) is outside of ourselves, in the real world, …where the body of Christ is essentially planted!
It is also where we wake up to the fact that we are joined at the hip with all those who most differ from ourselves for our sake as much as theirs!

It’s why I’m always talking about the serious health matter of our essential indivisibility / our Oneness In Christ (an Incarnational Faith).

In our life In Christ we are reminded as much of the totality as of the consistency of God’s Love for the world; and it’s the rationale for not losing interest and for not losing compassion!

So faith, I would say, is owning our uncertainties creatively; engaging our fear while yet trusting God. It is proactively accepting our limits and weaknesses in lieu of God’s grace and power. This marks the dynamic difference between negative human stress and the creative tension of a living faith!

Goodbye, my darlings. Keep your light shining and your heart high!

My mansion in the sky is in Bingara, NSW 2404. It’s relatively close to the centre of the world — And you can blow in on me — like you own the place — at any time! I’ll patch you up, console you, tell you the truth, even feed you. I could even promise not to preach!

Thank you for the great happiness of knowing you and loving you!


Henry C. Martin


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