After meeting former fellow-students from 50 years ago, this last weekend awoke even older family history. Carol and I were back at Chatsworth Baptist Church, West Norwood where Carol came to faith,was baptised, and where we were married, and I was ordained. It was a celebration weekend in brightly refurbished buildings. Before the church filled up Carol and I wandered through familiar rows of pews remembering where we once sat and some big moments of the past. Reconnecting with old friends kept throwing us back into rich conversations about times shared and key people who had influenced us.
I preached on both Saturday and Sunday. I tried not to look back too much though I couldn't stop telling some stories! To one side of the newly refurbished church was a glass case containing an open book. On each page was inscribed the name of one person who had gone out into ministry from the church. Tens of names are inscribed on its pages, covering over the last 130 years. Bless them, they had opened the book at my name, underneath which was a list of the places of my ministry. How humbling!
How much I owe to this church for its nurture and prayers through the years I cannot tell. Yet again, a stirring from the past has taken me into deep places of gratitude.