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A Letter from Rev'd John Squires

It’s All the Fault of the Girls’ Brigade

 

It is just over thirty years since my wife Lynn, two children and I made that perilous journey over the Pennines from Yorkshire to live in Lancashire.  If you think being a Christian is difficult, try telling your family where you will be living!!!   During this time we have seen our children grow up, our grandchildren born and made many friends along the way.  We have also seen our faith grow and along the way have had many prayerful discussions with God when I said NO and he said YES.  I am grateful to Lynn and my family for all their support, the sacrifices they have made and the encouragement they have given me.  Without this my journey would not have been possible.

 

Prior to moving to this area we were members of a small village Baptist Church in Barnsley and it was through our daughter being in the Girls’ Brigade and having to attend monthly church services that we started to join her (hence the title) – monthly soon became weekly, and the rest as they say is history.

 

When we left Barnsley one of the church members asked where we were going to live and we said it is a small village called Hambleton.   “My cousin lives on Wyreside Drive: is it near there?” -  “Yes I responded Riverside Drive is the next street” 

 

I should have known then that God was guiding me…was this coincidence or was it God paving the way for us to meet someone in this wonderful community.  I know what I think…I will leave you to think that one through!

 

We visited a number of churches before settling on Hambleton Parish Church.  Philip Ward was Vicar and Ann was Deputy Warden of Readers.  It didn’t take long before I was approached to consider Reader training (I have never been head hunted before!)  After three years training and in 1996 I was Licensed a Reader.  It didn’t stop there and I was Ordained in 2008.

 

It has been a privilege to serve the Over Wyre Parishes, particularly Hambleton and Out Rawcliffe.  Yes my sense of humour and mischief have got me into hot water on occasions.  As my wife says “I have to take you everywhere twice; the second time to apologise”.

 

Now, I find myself having to make that hard decision of deciding to retire.  I’m still trying to find out what that means in the Church of England.  I’m not sure any priests have actually retired; I think the term “retired” should be in inverted commas!  We do intend to spend more time in our caravan this summer, a spot more fishing and walking seems to be on the agenda.  It will be nice to have time to take the grandchildren places and to spend more time with them.

 

For every ending there is a new beginning, this is true of our lives; we finish school and we start work.  To me this is the exciting part.  We have experienced what has passed but yet we have that excitement and expectation of what is to come.  Lynn and I feel that now.  There is sadness in retiring from the church, but there is an excitement, an expectation in what is to come.

 

My final service on Easter Sunday seems to reflect this.  We have been through the experience of Lent, being challenged in whatever we have decided to do or give up.  My grandchildren gave up chocolate but Joshua soon decided that was too much of an ask and as he didn’t want to be the same as his sister - he has given up toast!  But Lent to me isn’t just about “giving up” it is also about “giving”, more time in prayer, in reading and also to other people to offer help and support, particularly those most in need.

 

We have walked with Jesus in glory into Jerusalem with our palms raised in glory to the King of Kings.  We have shared the Last Supper, our bodies, like our feet have been cleansed and we have shared in that wonderful, sustaining and perpetual meal of the Last Supper.

 

We have watched with disbelief Jesus being betrayed by one of those closest to him and we have witnessed his trial, his humiliation, and we have walked with him to the foot of the cross at Calvary.

 

Maybe on Good Friday you stood at the foot of the cross and listened to the nails being hammered in, seen the blood and heard the cries.  Maybe, just maybe you heard that small voice of the soldier say - “This man was truly the Son of God.”

 

The end had come, or so we thought.  As I stated earlier, from every ending comes a new beginning.  On that glorious Easter Sunday the tomb was thrown wide open – and we shout at the top of our voice “Alleluia.  Christ is risen.  He is risen indeed, Alleluia, Alleluia.” 

 

Christ has died so that our sins can be forgiven; Christ has risen to show that we too can have eternal life.  Our old life has finished, a new, more glorious life with all its challenges has started.

 

As we prepare to finish this ministry, Lynn and I start to prepare for the challenges to come, not only with some trepidation but also with some excitement.

 

We thank you all for your loyal support, your friendship and fellowship please pray for Lynn and me as we continue on our journey with God. 

 

May God bless you all.

 

 

Reverend John

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