Coming into faith.
That’s an odd collection of words, but you need odd collections of words to do justice to an experience that you have to experience to comprehend. To flag up that it is something paradigmic. Paradigmatic?
Anyway, it blows the cobwebs away, as they used to say on Fireman Sam.
Coming into church.
Not quite so odd, that collection of words, but that’s because you might think it means entering a building. No, that’s not what I’m thinking of. I mean actually becoming a part of church. In some ways you could say it happens when you ‘come into faith,’ but whoever it was who said that ‘it is like a second conversion’ is nearer the mark.
Let me explain it this way.
I’ve been here about two and a half years now. There are two good friends of mine with whom I used to meet regularly, for the specific purpose of listening to each other, and being open to support, encourage and challenge each other. We were neighbouring vicars. Now we are far flung vicars, and don’t meet as often.
It was perhaps 9 months after I had started that they pointed out ‘You’ve changed!’ What was it that had happened? When I was talking about All Saints I, for the first time, on that occasion, was talking about ‘my church’ and not ‘their church.’ It wasn’t conscious, but something had changed, and it was obvious to them, who know me well. I had crossed a threshold.
I can’t point to anything that had specifically led to that change in attitude – there probably would have been something. Funny, isn’t it, after applying for the job, doing all the preparation, having the official licensing with all that supporting prayer, it was still few months on, and likely to have been triggered by a passing comment from anyone in the church, and I knew I belonged. Or maybe just fully accepted that I belonged.
Realised I was home.
You may need to do something to belong. Do it.
You may need something to happen to enable you to belong. Please let it happen.
You may belong. Thank you for belonging. You’ve made it possible for us to belong.
Don’t give up the habits of meeting together.