Matters proceeded such that on the first Sunday in April, exactly two years since our first post-ex-church meeting, the decision was made by the church to recognise Mrs E and I as its “pastoral couple”. In the short term, this means having someone with recognised authority to keep things on track. In the long term, I privately hope it means enough definition of a role to leave it to somebody else one day.
The following Sunday morning service revolved around this recognition, which was a moving time with a mix of seriousness, informality, realism, and faith which I think marks a distinctive identity of our group. It’s perhaps summed up by the tongue-in-cheek gift to me from one of our longstanding friends of a miniature Japanese garden (this isn’t actually it, but, it looks pretty similar) encouraging me to “stay zen”. I just have to find enough space on my desk to install it.
The next Sunday morning was Easter Sunday, and three “refugee” couples from our ex-church and their children turned up. One family had been once before (since leaving the mystic remnant this winter, they haven’t been going anywhere). Another family in pretty much the same situation came for the first time. The husband had been in the infamous Wider Leadership Team, so that was potentially more of a challenge for us than for the other returnees. Having had an inkling of their potential arrival that day, we had been thinking over how we stood with respect to him. I think we do need to talk at some point, but I don’t think that his part in things was anything like as serious as that of the main perpetrators. The passage of two years has helped too. The fact that they were courageous enough to come almost says it all. Where it leaves our ongoing relationship is probably another subject – as is whether they or the others will return.
The “Forgiveness” thread I linked to below has been deleted, but there’s another one going now in which some of these issues are being discussed, here.
Our Easter service was also fun to the extent that it had a lot of teenagers. We seem to have collected quite a few. The timing of all this is very striking, or symbolic, or something.