We always thought that being back in Cambridge for much of the year would bring us extra passing traffic. So many people visit Cambridge for conferences and other events we hoped that old friends would pop by! Yesterday looked a free day. But out of the blue I received an email from my colleague at Northern Seminary - Cherith Fee-Nordling. She was speaking at the CS Lewis Conference here in Cambridge. Hurriedly, we found some free time in her schedule and invited her to our home for a meal. Great conversation followed - all the more so because we had no idea she was down the road. What a surprise!
She invited us to the evening conference session in St. John's College Chapel which took the form of a two hour Choral Concert on the Christian Virtues. This was based on the conference theme with spectacular singers belonging to the C.S. Lewis Summer Institute Chorale. Only I could go with Cherith. Looking through the glossy programme notes I discovered that the Founder of this Chorale and the Director is John Dickson. Sitting next to Cherith in the (uncomfortable) choir stalls I looked at his photograph and blurted out: 'It's John Dickson!' Back in the 1980's John and his family had been on sabbatical in Cambridge and attended my church. Since then, I had met up some ten years ago at a church conference in New Mexico. But we had lost contact. I couldn't believe it as the choir processed down the aisle and this elegant man in black led us through the evening - could it really be him?
I told Cherith I just had to try and see him at the end! But, of course, there were crowds surrounding him. Different groups demanded him in the centre of their photographs. Patiently I waited. Then he turned and saw me, and immediately threw his arms around me, announcing to all and sundry that I had been his Cambridge pastor. He was just as astonished to see me as I was him. And just as thrilled. Quickly, his wife joined us and then a couple of friends from Louisville whom we visited over twenty years ago. It was the most exciting reunion - all the more for being totally unexpected. Such joy! We are determined not to lose contact again - yet the wonder of Christian fellowship is that we are going to be surprised over and over again in God's kingdom. You really cannot get over the bonds that bind us in Christ.