Saturday, February 5, 2011
Face To Face With My Old Church
It's been a long 24 hours, friends.
Without going into detail, last night Cynthia got very sick. I was extremely concerned about her. She turned out fine, but there may be health issues ahead for her. For about a three hour stretch in the emergency room, I thought life might change forever. Thanks be to God for His mercy.
Today, Cynthia and I attended the funeral of an Angel Falls Church member. My current pastor, Brad, offered to go with us. We took him up on it. The church member was an older gentleman who meant a lot to me and was very close to Phillip Townsend, who I have recently reconciled with.
I knew that if we went to the funeral, we would be seeing several former church members that we had not seen since my fall. Angelica knew we would be there, but there is no animosity between us, as I have mentioned before. Our only reason for going was to mourn and show support for Phillip and his family.
Phillip, his wife, and daughter have been very supportive of me recently. When this gentleman got sick, they told me that I was one of only two people to visit him in the hospital. They were very appreciative of that. I didn't do it to get attention, but out of love for this man and for the family.
I wasn't sure how today would go, but Cynthia and I were very nervous. In the back of my mind, I suppose I expected the worst, but I also hoped for the best. Part of me hoped it would build some sort of reconciliation between me and some of my former church members. But all I could do was put it in God's hands and let things be.
When we arrived, I signed in and saw Phillip. I greeted him and we found a seat. I didn't make eye contact with any of my former members. I chose not to because the funeral wasn't about me and them, it was about the dear departed gentleman. Cynthia did tell me that she could see several of the former members out of the corner of her eye staring at us.
When I glanced around, I knew she was right. There were about 20 in attendance and about six of them had their eyes fixated on us. I chose to talk to Brad about matters at our church. I held Cynthia's hand and talked to her some before the funeral started. Phillip's daughter came over and hugged me and thanked us for being there. His wife came by and spoke to us as well.
The funeral was short but well done. After it was over, of course, we were the first to be ushered through the line. I gave my condolences to the family then shook hands with "the new guy" who hugged me in front of everyone (his career is over), and the interim, who surprisingly hugged me after I told him he did an excellent job.
We left quickly and went to our cars.
We talked on the way home. In our conversation, I came up with some simple thoughts. I still love those people. They're just people. I love them. Even the ones who just stared at me in disgust. I wish I could wrap my arms around them and love them. I wish I could tell them all that I'm forgiven and that Christ loves them just like He loves me. But I've forfeited that right.
They're in good hands with the new guy, I think. His prayer was beautiful.
I was proud to be with Cynthia today. Our love, our marriage, while hated by many, is what gets me through the tough days. I love her with all my heart. Even Phillip said some nice things to her. She's such a beautiful woman. Yes, we sinned. But God loves both of us and has broken our hearts and enabled us to love others in a great way.
I want to be able to let the people of Angel Falls know the reconciling love of Christ that I couldn't show them when I was pastor. Maybe soon. I'm not giving up.