It’s nearly here. I am getting quite excited, and it’s not even the day yet. I have to admit I have been doing one or two sneaky things to prepare for the big event. I have been doing a little bit of shopping to make sure that I have everything I need. I have been writing a list of all of the things that I need to do, people with whom I need to correspond, activities that need preparation, you know the sort of thing.
No, I’m not talking about Christmas, I’m talking about my return to work. I have been away from the church I serve for just over three months: most of it on sabbatical leave and the last three weeks on sick leave following an operation that we hope will once again relieve the constant migraine that plagues my brain. (In case you were wondering, it will take several months before we know how effective the new gadget is).
I am really looking forward to going back to work. I have not done any of the normal ministry-type things for 3 1/2 months. I have missed sermon preparation and preaching. I have missed visiting people in their homes. I have even missed Deacon’s Meetings and Church Meetings – honestly, they are a real blessing in our church even when we are discussing difficult matters.
But most of all I have missed the people who are Colchester Baptist Church. we are an eclectic bunch with a range of preferences, ideas, emphases, personalities, backgrounds, experiences, ages and many other differences. But the most important thing is that we love one another as we are all followers of Jesus, committed to doing that through being part of Colchester Baptist Church.
I’m looking forward to catching up with people and finding out what has been happening in their lives. I’m looking forward to hearing what God has been doing with people as individuals and families, and with the church. I’m looking forward to worshipping God together with my spiritual family once again.
It is said that you only truly appreciate something when you no longer have it. I suspect that this has been one of the benefits of my sabbatical leave: not that I took our church for granted beforehand, but it has helped me recognise how important the church is to me (remembering of course at the church of the people not the institution).
One of the joys of sabbatical leave is that I will have the opportunity to return to what I have missed. I am preaching my first sermon this coming Sunday morning. several people have asked me whether I had been preparing this sermon for 3 1/2 months, which suggests there is a certain degree of expectation! No pressure then.
And then it’s Christmas, which I absolutely love in the local church. It is one of the things that I missed most when I worked in our denomination’s national office and I’m so glad that I will be back in time to celebrate together with my spiritual family.
There used to be a Peanuts cartoon with Snoopy on top of his kennel, with the caption ‘Appreciate me now and avoid the rush’. Perhaps rather than waiting for the rush we should show our appreciation for one another more frequently.
Be blessed, be a blessing.