Alec Motyer 1924 - 2016

It is Alec Motyer’s funeral at St George’s on Friday 9th September at 3pm.  As well as letting people know the date and time, we couldn’t let the occasion pass without a few words.  He himself always seemed to have some well-chosen words for any occasion.

It might be apt to start with one of his simple human illustrative stories, in his own words, for a gathering of friends.  

“Some years ago, more than I can remember, I was invited by the Christian Union of one of the ancient universities to go and speak to them.  Wild horses wouldn’t make me tell you which university it was.  But it was one of the ancient ones and it wasn’t Dublin, Durham or Oxford.

And they said ‘Will you come and give us a talk on the Pentateuch  (the first five books of the Bible).  We would like you to expound the Pentateuch to us.  You can have 50 minutes.’  And the letter must have arrived on a morning when I was feeling skittish, because I wrote back and said,  foolishly yes, ‘If I can’t find anything to say in the last ten minutes, can I take Joshua as well?’

The secretary of the Christian Union was one of those people who was predestined from birth to be the secretary of a Christian Union – immensely efficient – as a small boy he probably carried a filofax!

He wrote back and said ‘We’d rather you just stuck to the Pentateuch.’

This helps sum up our experience of Alec since he moved to Poynton 12 years ago with Beryl his wife, to be closer in later retirement to his daughter Kate and her family.  They chose a house in the nearby road named after the parish church which, in his usual consistent principled manner, he started attending.  Only a very small number knew of his wider reputation as a preacher and writer, and he was very content to keep it that way, enjoying the fellowship of young and old through a time of vacancy between vicars.

When I arrived as the new vicar, I saw him straight away with his shock of reddish hair, sat in the middle of the crowd.  Knowing his national and international reputation as a superb Bible teacher and gifted communicator, I was rather intimidated.  I needn’t have been.  He has been the most encouraging and supportive of colleagues, a joy to visit, a wonder to hear and an inspiration in the ministry of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

It took 12 months to cajole him into using his formidable teaching gift among us, but he was enjoying being part of our work and, soon enough, he became a much-loved figure across a wide spectrum of people.He was particularly glad to help build up our smaller congregations at St Martin's and midweek.He had a quick wit that was invariably tempered with gentleness.  He had a playful nature but always kept in mind the important matters in the eyes of the Lord.  He always wanted long enough to do justice to a given Bible Reading, but if so many minutes was the request, he would acknowledge the constraint with a twinkle in his eye, and apologise that our cuppa might be a little later this week.  He helped us enjoy the Old Testament as well as the New.  He showed us winsomely that it was all the same book; and that as we hear the Bible, we hear the very voice of God; and that God’s voice must be heard by all.  He said these things and more in a way which is not easy to forget.

He continued to be an inspiration in his last frail years.  He gave up his car and transferred his adventurous driving style to a mobility scooter.  He leaned on his stick like the grasshopper with a zimmer frame in Ecclesiastes 12.  But his slowness only seemed to heighten his appreciation of the beauty of his natural or musical environment, and give opportunity for relaxed and vital conversation.  On some days he couldn’t stand long enough to preach in the way that he wished, but he continued until last month to read the Bible reading in church (often with a few memorable words of introductory context) and to write and publish until very recently.

We have been privileged to share the last years of the fruitful life of a gracious man.  And we are ready to thank the living Lord God for him, a special gift from the Almighty’s generous hand.