Talk about turning tides, unpredictable winds, unfolding unexpected paths. A month ago I would not have predicted that I would be writing this blog about the transpired events of my life. But here I am walking the line, embracing the unplanned, laughing at the contradictions of the journey. It all started in a suddenly. A shock bit of news. A friend, who is a Pastor of a relatively new gathering here in the Rhondda, suffered a heart attack. Julian was healthy, active and remained a contact and more importantly friend during my journey outside the walls. We played football together, enjoyed meals together as couples and shared gathering time, as he remained only one of a few people prepared to continue to invite me to share. I also officiated a few years ago at his wedding to the lovely Wendy. The news of his heart attack came as an enormous shock. The news arrived just as I was due to go away on holiday. Never had an opportunity to see him before I left, or before I went to Greenbelt. But I was concerned for my friend, as anybody would be.
Never Say Never.
At Greenbelt I met with my friend Diane for a coffee and chat. We covered loads of ground in our hour together. But there was one question she asked that would come back to haunt me. She said ‘do you ever think you will go back into ‘church’ leadership?’ Strange thing is I had been asked this question so many times in the past eight years and without hesitation have always said no, but this time without thinking about it I said ‘never say never’. It never shocked me at the time, but now when I think about it….A week later from that question I find myself in the front room of my friend Julian. Just there to see how he is, do the good pastoral, caring visit. There were others there too and the conversation was good, positive, encouraging. He had some tough moments and days but recovery was ongoing. The other visitors left. Then out of the blue the question was somehow slipped in. ‘Would you consider coming on board and joining us at Passion as part of the team?’ I was not expecting that, I was taken aback, side-swiped. Now Julian had often said I was welcome to join them, again I always said thank you but no. This time again my reply was different. ‘I will consider it’. Where did that come from? Then I remembered my conversation with Diane.
Can I Live the Tension?
Then came a week of inner battle. One day I would wake up with a definite no, the next with a yes. How could I step back into a church arena again after so long, when my thoughts had shifted in so many areas? How could I not want to stand shoulder to shoulder with people of faith again in a place of community? What would people say who I have walked out a journey with over these years outside the walls? How could I be so religious about being outside the walls now, as I was when I was inside the walls? Could I truly live the tension of my journey; where I had been, where I was, where I was going? But in it all one thing rose above all others. Friendship. If I can put my personal faith journey before friendship then what sort of journey am I walking out? If I am not prepared to stand in relationship with someone who wants to partner with me then what does that say about my heart for relationship? I had often said walking together is not seeing eye to eye, it is walking hand in hand, now was my opportunity to show that to be reality in my own thinking. I met with Julian and Wendy, and Paula and Frank, and ended up saying yes to a new day, a new chapter of the journey. And I loved the totality of the vision; to love God, love each other and eat. Not much I could disagree with there.
Walls of my own Creation.
We always create walls, borders, boundaries. It is time to live as if there are no walls. I have thought lately it is never about being inside or outside, to God there is neither side. Jesus came to walk through walls. It is a day of no walls. I am nervously excited about what will come from this. It is a privilege to stand with my friends Julian and Wendy. They themselves have been through many battles, but together there is the start of a new way of thinking. The humour of God, the Divine laughter is all over this. I came out of the A.O.G. during my time at Tonyrefail, they are looking to join the A.O.G. Attended an A.O.G. Regional day with them on Saturday in the same car as the new Pastor and her husband from my old haunt of Tonyrefail. Helen is a great character and conversation was good. Entering the building some of the first people we bumped into were instrumental in part of the complicated last chapter of my life there. I could hear the laughter of heaven. Healing, challenge, dealing, mirror in my heart. A fresh wind is blowing, and it’s direction is totally different to the forecast. But I am where I am, and where I want and need to be. It is a day for Passion.