It’s a new year, which I suppose all of us knew. God is doing new things. Which, I hope all of us knew. And it’s a little early to be reflecting back, doing a year in review kind of thing, but after last night, that seems to be where God has led me for the time being. To review where I am, I suppose to get oriented for where He’s planning to take me. The beginning of the story of this year actually begins with the end of the story of last year.
On the 11th of November, I found myself in the ER with my husband who was in AFib after an interrupted heart attack and was being transported to Piedmont Atlanta for further evaluation in the middle of the night. Thus began a time of interruption in general. My work was interrupted. Our lives in general were interrupted. My birthday was interrupted by open heart surgery, even (which I think is probably one of the best gifts I have ever gotten for my birthday, since it means Corey is now happily chopping up peppers and complaining about his legs hurting from the exercise he’s been doing today). Most of all, our journey among the churches was interrupted.
Strangely, it was already going to be interrupted that week with a planned visit back to our home church because the following Sunday was Charge Conference, they were doing communion, and God had already nudged me pretty strongly that I was supposed to be present for those things. After church the 13th, and praying, we settled on staying at our home church through the holidays. It’s always nice to be home for the holidays. It’s always nice to connect with those who love you when you are recovering from a life altering and faith altering experience. It was good for Corey to spend some time with Pastor Nelson who so graciously visited him twice in the hospital and once after he got home, even though we’ve been wandering since very soon after Nelson came to BGUMC. So we decided to come home for the holidays.
There was just one problem. Christmas fell on Sunday this year. New Years fell on Sunday this year. And there is this thing in the modern church, this thing that congregations do. Sometimes, for some reasons, they decide to cancel Sunday worship in favor of spending time with family on high holy days, or just regular old holidays. I was stumped, and in truth frustrated. Here I was wanting to spend the holidays with my family, the one God gave me by faith as well as by blood, but we weren’t gonna have church those days. More than that, I was just generally thrown off and deeply disturbed by the thought that our congregation, particularly our leadership, had chosen to close the church on a day when we normally worship God. I know Nelson had his reasons, but I could not help but be disquieted. And, of course, no matter if my church was open on Christmas and New Year or not, I couldn’t skip worshiping God in His house on the Sabbath. Neither could my dear friend C. So, we asked for permission to come worship with just us there in God’s house Christmas morning, without benefit of sermon or Order of Worship or band or pastor. Just my family and her and anyone else who happened to walk through the door. She even has a key so no one would have had to leave their celebrations to come let us in. And when that permission was decline, I picked her up and we went to the first church Corey and I visited on this journey because they invited all who wanted to worship the Lord to come on Christmas morning.
It was a lovely service, but the need to go to a different church for Christmas was also a turning point. I had sensed that turning point coming on that Sunday in November during Charge Conference. I had sensed that turning point coming when during this same time period, He disconnected me from my Bible Study there, the last anchor line holding me in place. But, not being able to worship in my Father’s house, with those who wanted simply to worship without needing anything from anyone except permission, as He had asked me to do, on the day we celebrate the birth of our Savior… He had told me it would be a sign when He told me to ask permission instead of just going and doing it. Events have happened and decisions have been made that mean we are not going back there at the end of our journey. It is no longer a place God will let me call home, though there are still those who are my family there, and I will miss them. I see other things as well, on a more dire note, but I will leave those for another day and time if and when God actually calls me to speak them. I still have hope that God will intervene.
But, what all that meant on Christmas was that the Christmas Eve service at BGUMC was to be our last visit. As we sang songs of the new beginning provided by the birth of Christ, I knew for me and mine, this was an ending, a farewell. Which I suppose is as it should be. The ending of the old is required for the beginning of the new. I’ll finish the story of that new beginning tomorrow. For now, what is ending for you right now? What new thing is God leading you to? Share your stories, if not hear then somewhere so that others may learn to follow where He leads. Be blessed and be a blessing.