"Graceland" is the name of my favorite song and album. It's by Paul Simon, but more importantly, it's what "home" sounds and feels like to me. We always listened to this album as we traveled from my home in Tennessee to my parents' childhood homes in Florida. But today, it's also a pretty good snapshot of my theology. Somewhere I really believe that the Christian journey is all about a wild trip to Grace-land. As I see it, Grace-land is the place where God is waiting to meet even us–with all the baggage and brokeness that we tote with us. Grace-land is the place where we will be received with open arms, even though our attempts at “getting it right” have been miserable failures at best. But, I think, every step we take is a step on the journey to Graceland.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Shower the People

{Thoughts in a series as I transition from one congregation to the next}

When I think back on this time of in-between, I wonder what I will remember. Will the stress of moving be what I hold on to? Will I cling to the good-byes and the hellos? Will I remember all the conversations with not one, but two churches, that had to happen in order to go? Will I remember all the anxious prayers and the "thank you, thank you, thank you" prayers that have gone up from me?

Maybe.  But what I hope I remember from this time is just how much love I've experienced.  The church I'm saying goodbye to has poured its love out on me, from the moment I announced my departure.  It's given me a chance to reflect and appreciate all the times we have shared together and to remember the ways I've both loved and been loved.  There have been tears (lots of tears) and hugs and goodbye dinners and "are you sure you won't stay?" conversations.  There's a goodbye party planned.  And if I ever doubted, these people are helping me remember that I mattered to them.  Of course it's not about that, but it's nice to know all the same.

But this church isn't the only source of love.  The church to which I am going is also making my mind spin with how much they love me-- and most of them haven't even yet met me. And maybe it isn't even that they love me, but thats how they treat their pastors--with love for the light of Christ those pastors bear. I've been blown away by the gestures of kindness and caring that I've already experienced, and I haven't even arrived yet.  One family has offered us a cottage to stay in while the manse repairs are completed.  One lady asked us for a wishlist so that church folks might contribute to the small items necessary for the move. Another lady always asks about our pets and tells me how she is looking after the plants we already brought up there.  The manse restoration project has turned out to be quite a labor of love, which has become an "all hands on deck" event.  And 28 people piled in cars and the church bus and drove an hour and a half to come see me as I was received at the Presbytery meeting.  Folks don't just go to Presbytery meetings because they are fun...

Yet, even these two churches are not responsible for all the love I'm feeling.  My friends and family and sweet husband are filled with words of "I'm proud of you" and "I'm so happy for you", even as they give me space to grieve the transition while  knowing that I'm simultaneously excited for the destination.

I wouldn't choose to spend much time in between.  But if I have to be in this place, then I'm really grateful for the love.

Maybe James Taylor has it right:  "Shower the people you love with love, show them the way that you feel. Things are gonna work out fine, if you only will..."

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