Kingdom of Fife to Kingdom of Christ

It was with surprise and sorrow on Monday that I learned of Dr Walter Riggans’ death. Walter had preached at Martin Top several times and will be well missed by the Congregational churches among which he ministered and whose pastors and preachers he trained. He had previously been General Director of Churches’ Ministry among the Jews (CMJ) and an Honorary Research Fellow at Cliff College, as well as tutor for Biblical and Mission Studies at All Nations Christian College. He had written a number of books, including commentaries on Hebrews and Numbers, texts not known for their simplicity. Other than Walter, few of our preachers could read Akkadian, the language of ancient Assyria, while still communicating in a winsome and engaging manner. More important than any of this, however, was the warm encouragement he gave to those of us in pastoral ministry. I recall waiting for him to arrive at Martin Top to preach, seeing him appear in a surprisingly small car. Despite his obvious intelligence, he carried on right past the chapel, turning left up the lane and disappearing into the distance. I waved and hollered, even running some way up the road to bring him back, but he was gone, out of sight. He returned ten minutes later, recognising the chapel from that other angle.

On Friday 10th June, this affable Biblical scholar was called home to be with His Lord and Saviour. Though a proud Scotsman, hailing, as he put it, from the Kingdom of Fife, he is now in the true place for which He was called and created. Solomon observed in Ecclesiastes 7:1:

A good name is better than precious ointment, and the day of death than the day of one’s birth.

He certainly had a good name. Now his toil is over, his commission complete. When he was born back in December, 1953, he and his mother went through some severe physical discomfort, but the result was joyous and welcomed. His dying day may have been physically uncomfortable also, and those he left behind are now mourning and grieving, yet Walter himself has never been better off. His birth brought him to Fife, but his death escorted him to glory, into the very presence of the Messiah whom he had served so long. We who also love the Lord Jesus and believe the gospel will see Walter again- even brighter and warmer than we now remember him. Friday 10th June was a day of separation, disruption, pain and sorrow; for Walter and his Lord, however, it was a day of reunion, celebration, excitement and joy.

Precious in the sight of the Lord Is the death of His saints. Psalm 116:15