I’ve moved quite a few times over the last decade or so and unfortunately, almost every move meant the need to find a new church.
Every once in a blue moon, I walk into a church and on the first try know This Is The One. I feel a sense of peace. Things fall together. Even if I meant to look elsewhere, I don’t.
Sometimes I’m back in my hometown. Then I go where my family goes. Built in community where I am automatically accepted as the oldest, never seen daughter in an otherwise active family.
Often I settle for “good enough.” I’ve got a consistent ride, worship I like, sermons I don’t disagree with even if I don’t love them. It is a season.
Occasionally, though, I find a church and keep going and it becomes The One even if it wasn’t what I expected. And I think I’ve found that here in Virginia.
Mostly I dreaded returning this morning. After about two months of consistently attending one church, I all but disappeared for 6 weeks. Granted, I wasn’t in the state so I didn’t abandon them. But they don’t know that.
So, I braced for the awkward. Awkward, ‘I know you, don’t I?’ smiles. Awkward half-greetings. Awkward teasing about not showing up. Or worse, the awkwardness of being greeted by no one. The feeling of starting over…again. Of feeling like a stranger after pouring time and energy into a place. The echoes of starting over…once again.
But that didn’t happen today. I was greeted by hugs and exclamations. Greeted with: “You’re back!!” and “We knew Wisconsin couldn’t keep you forever!”
I sat down and waved to a couple I knew a few rows behind me, only to have them get up and sit by me. And then someone else joined me a few minutes later and sat on my other side.
And it just hit me how nice it is to not have to start over again.