Today was unusual, unique even.
Not the morning service, that was quite normal (annual covenant service at Thrapston with a new person joining the congregation).
But in the afternoon I had been invited to the ecumenical covenant service at the Shared Church in Ringstead. It was great to be part of the congregation for a covenant service (see 5 things I, me, myself,, love about Methodism – part 5) without any reading, leading, preaching or anything else. Plus it was great to see everyone again.
It was special as this is the first time I have been back to a Church where I have been a minister after finishing there. It is an unusual situation as I have not moved, but the Circuit was re-organised in the Summer and so since August I am no longer the Methodist Minister at Ringstead Shared Church. [Actually the pedant in me wants to admit that I did go back for a welcome service for Kevin the new Baptist Minister but that was so soon after leaving that it did not feel like returning].
So I now have some limited experience (well one experience, hence the comment about today being unique) returning to a Church where I have been been a minister and so far in my wide experience it is good
Anyway it got me thinking about another "Going Back" that is coming up soon. On February 14th we are visiting my "home" Church (St Paul's Methodist Church, Crawley) and I am taking the two morning services. That is going to be quite strange as we have only visited once since moving to Raunds four and a half years ago. It was my home Church from 1976 to 2005 with a couple of gaps (University and when we lived in Croydon when first married) and so we have a lot of history there.
I guess I am wondering a bit about how it will feel to us and to the congregations there. Will we all have changed so much that it feels strange? Last time I preached there I was still a student with little experience as a Local Preacher, I wonder if I have changed much. Yet at the same time I have a grand total of one service taken outside the Nene Valley Circuit since my appointment so I am not exactly experienced at this :-). Strange how things change. As a Local Preacher I used to really like going to different circuits to preach. Now as a Minister I love being with the Churches I serve, where I know more of what is happening in people's lives and where I can do more to try to connect Sunday Worship with the whole of the life of the congregations and communities.
H'mm, odd to write that because in many ways it is not what I would have expected of me a few years ago. Maybe I am just getting old. Maybe I used to feel safer doing "hit and run" services whereas now I can handle "hit and stay"
Anyway, better dash now cos someone seems to have gone crazy with my diary for the coming week.