Photo credits

The Embalse de Riano in northern Spain. The picture was taken by .... me!

Monday, April 30

First day back at our original church

The morning felt neutral, or if anything I wondered if we had made the right move.

The evening was very very good, and God spoke. To us. To ME!

The thing with the morning was that nothing seemed to have progressed while we were away. They were singing the same songs. Some of the same tensions seemed to be there. The main Sunday school superintendent that we fell out with was not there, but the people he has put into the role that he told my wife [by sacking her] was not necessary were quite cold to us. But our daughter seemed to enjoy being in there. There were some new families – which is actually great news – but I somehow felt they were looking at us (and the welcome we were getting) as a threat. And the sermon had the same anti-gay rhetoric, asking people to sign the petition against a change in the definition of marriage. Are my views on this now too ‘liberal’ for this church? (I’m not liberal in the dismissing-scripture sense, but I probably am in the lets-look-at-the-scripture-again-and-check-we haven’t-got it-wrong-and-lets-tolerate-people-that-look-at-the-same-scriptures-and-interpret-them-differently sense)

So during the afternoon I was not able to give my wife the overwhelming support for the move that she would have liked me to give her.

But the theme for the evening service was ‘new beginnings’, and having talked about which of us should go we decided we both should and arranged a babysitter.

It was very good. Now, its important to bear in mind that they did not know that we would be turning up this week, and the theme was probably set months ago. But it was as if the service had been prepared especially with us in mind.

It was not the same old songs – one was a fairly recent Phil Whickam song. One was written in 2010 by the church’s own musician who was leading the worship that night. It was as though it was written for us.

The talk was about – you’ve guessed it – new beginnings. But it also included bits about tolerating epolpe with different lifestyles form us even if we disagree with them – for example gays and lesbians – so there is a chink of sense shining through there.

But the bit that really got to me was near the end when the minister who had given the talk went to the front feeling foolish, and asked people to put one hand on their mouth and one on their heart, and then she told us to lift the ‘mouth’ hand to God and give to him all the things that have been said against us, and then to lift the ‘heart’ hand and give to him all the things that still hurt us. And I did. That was right at the end and the meeting broke up almost straightaway, and I found myself speaking to the Vicar and NSM – the people we had all of our shouting matches with in January 2011 – and found myself saying ‘sorry’ to them. This then opened the door for hem to say sorry to us. And it really was quite an emotional moment of genuine reconciliation.

Very good indeed.

Next we met an old lady, well into her 70s, who being deaf to a while to twig that we were really back as opposed to just visiting. As soon as she realised, even at her age she started jumping up and down and saying ‘Thank you, thank you Jesus’.

I can’t really add to that!

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