This business of moving churches makes the emotions flap considerably: because of what and particularly who we're leaving behind, because of the feeling of leaving gaps that put extra pressure on others to fill, because of things we see happing to friends that we feel powerless to help with. All kinds of stuff.
Yesterday I led worship in church, which is pretty much always an emotional and draining experience. I used to get really charged up playing guitar, but actually leading, singing the sings, trying to feel where things should go, being a little the pivot around which that phase of the meeting turns leaves me really drained and tired.
Then we went for lunch.
The church we're returning to is re-structuring into a new form of small groups, and a couple of days before we had been very kindly invited to come along for lunch and to get to meet everyone again in one of these groups. Most people we knew already, and in one sense it was like we'd never been away, yet at the same time there's a sense of being a very different person. I've had a lot of corners knocked off in this past while, and no longer feel the same inside - it's not that they've changed, so much as I have (they will have changed too, of course).
Chris described the feeling as coming home, to be welcomed and so obviously loved and wanted and cared for and honoured.
To me it was different from that. It's made me realise what I've been missing this last few years: there's a sense of not just being valued, but a richness of spiritual experience and family that I'd not felt in *this* way since moving - an presence of God in the relationships that can't be touched but can be felt. It felt a little like the prodigal son, returning from a foreign land where the wealth had been spent trying to survive and then having the fattened calf despatched & a feast (well, hand-crafted bread & soup) prepared.
I went in cautious, heart gently flapping, trying to watch my words and feeling a heaviness, but over an hour or 2 that lifted, and I felt I could be myself with these people.
It's life Jim, as we knew it. :-)