Saturday, January 31, 2015

No Place I'd Rather Be

My first flight out of Chicago a year and a half ago and
my last flight out of Chicago back across the pond.

    I have now officially made my last cross-atlantic journey to my home here in Newcastle; and honestly, it is tough to absorb and comprehend. I was sad to leave friends and family in Colorado yet again, but so excited to return to England. I was so happy to be back in Britain, but sad and scared to know my time here is passing faster than I imagined possible!

Have I done my job well?
Will I have made enough of an impact on my community to last even when I am gone next year? What most deserves my attention these next 7 months?

But all these questions so easily lifted from my shoulders the moment I walked back through the doors of JMC. Because although Rob joked that, without me in Newcastle, the walls of the church fall down (only literally of course! we are having some structural concerns with plaster falling from the walls of the sanctuary), this place's strength, impact and blessing is far beyond anything I could do in a lifetime!!

Even from my first Sunday in the church I could feel it--something almost tangible and yet indescribable. But over the last few months, we have had a few folks share with us their sense of why JMC is so special. One in particular speaks volumes...

"...Since I first walked through the doors of JMC a month ago two things have been consistently on my mind:
Firstly this feels like "home-church". Not reminiscent of a particular church, but of a church which is God's home for us. Incredibly welcoming, and a church who are showing God's love.
The second is an inconsistency. I keep hearing the same phrases at JMC. "We're a small church" and "we're not a big church", and yet I keep hearing God say it is a big church. A huge church. A people with a huge passion, making a big impact and with a massive mission. It's like he is saying:

"I want you to open your eyes. Look at what I'm using you for. Look at who I'm impacting through you. The building may not be the biggest, but it's going to be full soon (we might need to put more chairs out) - expect it. Their might not be thousands of people in Jmc, but it is a huge church, and it's mine"

I wanted to share it with you..." (James Went, JMC family member)

The view from the JMC front steps, that so many have walked up to come in and join our family (Yes that is snow on the ground! One of the two snowfalls we have had this year).
And under tragic circumstance earlier this month, the true "size" of JMC became more obvious than ever.
Following the unexpected and heartbreaking loss of our minister's son, Andy, this community immediately pulled together and enfolded the family with love, prayers and endless offers of support. I have never been more proud to be apart of this community than I do now!

We had a prayer vigil for Andy Hawkins at JMC
the afternoon after he passed and saw just
how tangible the love of this community can be. 
It is a tough time for JMC, but an immeasurably difficult time for the Hawkins family. Yet through this pain, they have shown strength in faith and turned to God in such a way that is truly inspirational! Somehow, even in a time when we as a church family are holding them in love and support, they continue to lead us by living the ultimate example.

So I ask you today to keep the Hawkins in your thoughts and prayers and if you would like to further help the family, do email me for information on a fund started for Rob and Katie's grandchildren.

God is love-through the good and the bad.
I may forever have my heart split between two homes, but for the moment, there is no place I'd rather be!

Cheers for now,