Sunday, October 15, 2006

Anniversary


I went back to my old church this morning to celebrate my former minister's fifth anniversary. It was a nice morning. I got to see a lot of my old friends. The service and sermon were great. Nguyen and the boys and I enjoyed a potluck brunch and chatted with folks we haven't seen in awhile.

When I first left Bell Street last fall, I cried for days. It was like losing an old friend. But regardless of how painful it was, I felt sure that it was the right choice. I was being called to find a Christian church.

This morning, while sitting in my old pew at Bell Street, I realized that the church had been a gateway for me. I was not, evidently, destined to stay. But it did serve a critical purpose for me. It was the place where I first fell in love with Jesus. And Steve, my UU minister, was willing to go on a crazy, uncharted journey with me... putting aside his own doubts and fears so he could minister to me during a critical time in my spiritual life. We didn't know what the results were going to be. We didn't really know that we were participating in a sacrament. But we felt certain that we were held in God's embrace throughout the time leading up to my baptism. And we were both a little stunned when it became clear that I was going to leave.

It occured to me this morning that for many people, there really IS no other spiritual home for them. If not for the UU church, they would be unchurched. And I know, for a fact, that God finds his way into that chapel, even if he isn't mentioned by name all the time. He found me there, didn't he?

Bell Street has gone through some tough times in the last year. Financial struggles, members leaving, issues within the congregation. It grieves me deeply and I pray for them constantly.

Today, though, was a joyful event. A time when everyone could look back on the last half decade with awe at what has been accomplished, what has changed, and all the ministry that has taken place. I was very grateful to be there.

3 comments:

revabi said...

So glad God provided this gateway for you. God bless you in your continued spiritual journey.

ukok said...

I agree with you that God can indeed use any means to touch the lives of those He loves :-)

LutheranChik said...

Since I moved back to my hometown, several years ago, I've had occasion to return to the church of my childhood, a parish of a more conservative Lutheran flavor.

When I switched church affiliations, back in my college days, the social and theological conservatism of this congregation and its denomination had made me restless and angry and frustrated; when I joined an ALC/LCA parish and asked for a "peaceful release" from my hometown church (doesn't that sound like putting down your dog? "I'm so sad..we had to have Fluffy peacefully released yesterday...."), I mentally and emotionally burned my bridges.

Going back now -- for family funerals; for the annual sauerkraut supper -- it feels different than it did back in my 20's. This is where I went to Sunday School; it's where I got confirmed. They aren't where I am now, but where I am now is grounded in who they were then.