It's been a great week. We've been able to visit with friends, host and go to play dates, and Thomas played some golf. We've been around and it is SO GOOD TO BE BACK. Here's a glimpse at this last week and some reflections over this last year...
WE ARE BACK
Perry and Shepherd took some swimming lessons this last week and they turned out to be helpful for the whole family - they helped us set some routine by getting up and out of the door each day...and helping tire the kids as well! We hosted a few play dates at the house and went over for a few as well. Children being able to play with each other after this last season has felt like healing therapy for all. Not to mention being able to have a tea or two with neighbours. To cap it all off, Thomas played golf with a few friends and he is hobbling around the house and acting sore - he must be getting old.
We've taken some time to think about where we are and how we feel after this last year in London. This isn't everything there is to say but they are a few thoughts to capture where we are...here's looking back on one year.
Looking Back with Lesslie
Our time in quarantine/lockdown/isolation allowed us to have a lot of meaningful conversations about where we've been and where we want to go: as a family, church community, and such. This time of looking back and looking ahead brings to mind one of our favourite quotes from Lesslie Newbigin.
Who is Lesslie Newbigin? He's practically the fifth member of our family. Lesslie Newbigin was a British missionary and thought leader. He lived from 1909-1998. After spending most of his life working with churches in India, Newbigin "retired" to London and eventually to Birmingham in 1974. Newbigin was concerned with big and pressing questions which led him to leverage his retirement years in the effort to bring about a missionary encounter between the message of Jesus and modern Western culture. Thomas wrote his dissertation on Newbigin and can tell you more. Long story short, he's a really significant thinker that has a lot to offer.
ANYWAYS, like we were saying, there's an important quote by Newbigin. Newbigin noticed that Christians, and church communities as well, tend to spend too much time either looking back, longingly into the past and wishing for those brighter days again - or - fearfully looking ahead into the future and not quite knowing what to expect. For BOTH of those mentalities. Newbigin offered the following corrective...
"Nostalgia for the past and fear of the future
are equally out of place for the Christian."
Looking Back To The Past
Looking back on this last year brings a world of emotions with it. Part of the reason we so enjoyed the summer holiday we got through was that we were so tired! The lead up to London was A LOT. Landing here left no real time for processing and we were feeling a world of emotions. As we've had some time to process everything from this last year we are grateful. When we look back beyond the horizon of this last year we see a country that we loved and many creaturely comforts that we left behind. We look back and choose to cultivate gratitude. We are sensitive of indulging in mere nostalgia and wishing to go back to those or any other days. Our faith in God allows us to receive those times and seasons as just that - times and seasons when we could be present with one another, our friends, and our God. Yet we don't have to find our hope in those moments because our faith tells us that the best is yet to come.
Looking Ahead To The Future
Looking ahead to the future is a mix of optimism for what could happen and some uncertainty for what we'll be able to do. Personally, we are really enjoying life in London. As a family, we are looking forward to having the kids back in school in just a few weeks and around their friends again. As a church community we are both thankful for how God has added to us over the last year and at the same time trying to discern just how much we'll be able to get together in person. Through it all, we are able to face the future without fear. Did you know that "fear not" is the most repeated command in all of the Bible? God's people don't have to be a fearful bunch - in fact, they shouldn't be. Faith in the Creator and Sustainer of everyone and everything means that we don't have to know every bit about how our situations will turn out - we can know Him, they one who ultimately controls every situation we face.
Not Getting Distracted
So, we aren't looking back to the past and wishing for some sort of "better days" and at the same time we aren't looking into the future and worrying over all of the "what ifs" that are out there. We are able be present, today, and realise that these are the moments where we get to be a family, find ways to serve our community, and abide in a relationship with God. We don't have to be distracted by the past or the future - these are they days that we are given to live.
There are three words that are a really big deal for our family. They show up in our parenting and shape the way we think about our relationship with God. The Way of Jesus is a journey of learning to HEAR, and then TRUST, and gradually OBEY the voice of Jesus. Hearing, Trusting, Obeying. That's what we try to teach out children to do with our own instruction. That's also what it means to be a child of God - steadily growing in our ability to hear, trust, and obey the voice of our creator and sustainer. We're focused on those three words in the year ahead.
We're looking forward to hosting various friends in the home over the next couple of nights. Monday is a Bank Holiday here and we're switching that with Thursday where we're leaving London for a very important pickup. Stay tuned, more details coming next week. For now, it's our last full week before school starts back. The weather transition is well underway as Summer is giving way to temps in the 50s-60s and some cloudy and cool days.
Here's to all of us, together, not getting jammed up with the past or the future and simply learning to hear and to trust and to obey...
Thank you for being on this journey with us.