A few weeks ago I received a call from a member of the church that I grew up in, inviting me to preach there this weekend. In fact my parents are still members. For reasons I will not go into and because I truly believe that God was directing us on to something new, we left that church about 8 years ago and joined the church my husband had grown up in. My family church still means a lot to me. They are the people who helped give me my roots and foundation in Christianity. They have watched me grow from a painfully shy child into a woman of faith. So when I received the invitation to "Go Home" and fill in at the pulpit, I jumped at the opportunity. You see, I was baptized, confirmed, married and baptized all 3 of my children in that church. The members there are like family and when I arrived I was met with hugs and best wishes. And when the service was over they complimented me and told me how much they enjoyed my sermon and how happy they were that I had come back.
It was an emotional experience. Last night as Dave and I were getting ready for bed, he asked me if I was nervous. I told him I wasn't nervous, I was so excited I didn't think I was going to be able to sleep.
Standing at that pulpit today, ready to begin my sermon, I suddenly felt overwhelmed with the feeling that my former pastor, Reverend Mike was right there with me. I had to quickly pull it together and continue on. Reverend Mike had been our pastor for 27 years. He was a wonderful pastor and taught me so much. It is because of him that I am on this journey to becoming a pastor myself. In confirmation he made us learn. There was no way that he was going to let any of us be confirmed unless we truly knew what it meant. Today I thank him for that. Because of him I have a deep connection with God and what it means to be a Christian. He passed away a few years ago, but today I felt him there. Standing right beside me and giving me that support that I knew he would have given me if he would have been sitting in one of those wooden pews.
There are others who guided me and loved me who now are with our Lord. Arlene, Ruth, Grandma and Grandpa and so many more, that I know were watching me from heaven and cheering me on. I felt their presence and support throughout the entire service.
As I write this I am overcome with emotion and the tears are falling. Tears of joy and sadness.
There is something to be said about "going home". When I walked in to the church it still smelled the same. The people haven't changed much, other than a few more gray hairs and the kids who I babysat in the nursery are now parents themselves. It felt comfortable, like when you put on that favorite sweatshirt for the first time in the fall. It's a cozy warm familiar feeling that makes you want to stay for awhile.
Before I left I was invited to come back on December 27th to once again fill in at the pulpit. I can't wait to "go home" again.