With that Stewart took his seat with the three other elders on the platform. A general rumbling, shuffling and clearing of throats followed as the grizzled old visitor rose from the first bench and came forward. There was a surprising spring to his step although the back was significantly stooped. As Alistair turned to face the happy congregation, one’s attention was instantly taken by the vivid light blue eyes beneath bushy gray brows:
“As some of you know, it was my decision after the death of my dear wife in ’85 to leave my pulpit in Kingston and to launch out in itinerant ministry, comforting, reminding and exhorting where possible. I have been able to visit this site on two other occasions and I must say that I did not anticipate such a grand conclusion. You are all to be commended on your fine work. I see that Rufus’ leg is coming along well and I remember that week of the accident when it was so seriously in question. God bless you Rufus, and your good wife Dorothy…
May we pray a few minutes together friends? (What followed could only have come from Highland stock. Such articulate giving of thanks. Such beseeching of God’s presence and continued mercy. Such warning to the flesh to remain abased in the presence of the Most High. Such intercession for the precious and wandering souls of neighbours down the concession roads. Near weeping. Near laughing. Near visions of the Heavenly City brought close to this lovingly interlocked wooden structure.)
Upon conclusion the speaker turned again to Stewart: “Brother, would you please give me your chair and go down to sit with your Missus and the others.” Without speaking another word Alistair raised the bulky chair heavenward, kissed the head of its backrest and quietly placed it on the platform about seven feet to his left.
“Friends may that chair never stray from that location during service. May it never be occupied by any of you. Just a simple unexceptional wooden chair. Henceforth it is reserved for the Lord Jesus. When you look at it you are to be reminded of our Saviour’s presence in this place by the Spirit. This Meeting Hall is a place for meeting with Him much more than for meeting with each other. As you arrive may you be able to confirm that your previous days’ activities, words and observances have been sweet before Him. If before Him you are convicted of any stumbling, repent of it quickly here on bended knee. Do not hide it. Do not play the hypocrite. Others will understand and get under your need. The Lord is here. He is the One with whom you have to do. His returning smile will be like a dozen sun-rises.
Now in making this adjustment on the platform I realize that I am discommoding one of your elders each service. This is a good thing. Each of them should spend service occasionally in the pews. We all know the stuff of which we are made. In need of much searching, humiliation and affliction. Let no man be exalted. I know. I opted for this wandering new life of mine away from the kirk in Kingston because the people were looking too much toward me. I am no mediator. CHRIST IS THE MEDIATOR! I realize that soon you will be selecting one of these four as senior shepherd. It is a good thing that the responsibility be circulated among them to a certain degree. All of these men have farms to work and families to raise. I know from personal acquaintance that as in the case of the deacons in Acts Six all of these brothers are full of the Spirit, but also humble and willing. Pray for them often, that no candle be extinguished in this place.
Now with your permission I would give a few brief thoughts on the lowly ministry and service of Our Lord as portrayed by Paul in the second chapter of his epistle to the dear Philippians….”
(Painting by Don Haugen)