Well, I got through Saturday, thanks to a ton of grace and, I’m sure, a lot of prayers and support from people like you. Thank you to everyone who prayed for us and for all the lovely emails and comments that were so encouraging.
It has been a most difficult week, especially following my return from Europe. Sara and I returned home last night and went to bed at 8:00. I don’t recall ever having been more mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted! But strangely Sara and I both felt full spiritually, knowing we had seen God’s hand unfold in some amazing ways and had completed the things he had asked us to do. It was hard to leave Louise, but we know God has others nearby to come alongside her when we can’t. Today was a day of rest and reconnection as we have simply vegged the entire day. It’s been wonderful and so desperately needed.
A week ago I was in a grassy field in Ireland with believers from all over the world celebrating an amazing week of sharing our relationship with God and finding new and growing relationships with each other. One week later I was back in my old hometown facilitating my best friend’s funeral. What I didn’t say in my earlier blog is that the funeral was held in the facility of the congregation I used to pastor before being unceremoniously resigned nearly 13 years ago. I find it fascinating how God brings things around full-circle, and thought my friend might have been smiling down at us in the irony of it all. But these people couldn’t have been more gracious in offering their facility and helping with all the arrangements.
I definitely felt strange standing behind a podium I had spoken from so many times before in more pleasant circumstances, looking out on faces of people with whom Sara and I used to share such rich fellowship and joyful laughter. Though some tragic circumstances years ago we got separated in our spiritual journeys. It took the death of a mutually loved brother to bring us back together for another moment in time. Perhaps something more enduring will result from this weekend. I certainly hope and pray so. We may not see ‘church’ the same way as they do, but the church Jesus builds does not depend on that. It simply results from people who will share honest and loving friendships together.
I am more and more convinced after my time in Ireland that the body of Christ takes expression as simply a network of friends, and the friends of those friends! I realize that may take more explanation at some point, but I’m way too tired today. It was wonderful even if for a weekend to connect with people that we had loved so much and had so often laid down our lives to serve. It would be a wonderful legacy of this weekend if some of those relationships were restored in Christ.
For if the death of our earthly brother could bring us together for a weekend, then wouldn’t it be true that the death of Jesus, our older brother, would be more than sufficient to bring us together for all time? Stay tuned!