A while ago, I walked through the old neighborhood where I grew up and I have to admit it was a sad experience. As I walked up and down the streets where my childhood memories were made I realized like Thomas Wolfe, You Can’t Go Home Again. So much has changed and though the houses still stood bright and shinny, my memories were clouded with loss. Standing on the corner of Cleveland and one of the cross streets I could see in my mind the usual gang playing street hockey till the evening drove us indoors to the television set. We played baseball on the sawdust pile, rode our bikes to Turtle Creek on warm summer days and swapped baseball cards sitting at backyard picnic tables. I miss those days, especially since my mom and dad have passed and strangers now live in the only home I knew for so many years. Some of my friends have died, way too early, others moved to distant parts of the country and others have just drifted out of my life. So, I guess I will remember those sunny summer days, the best I can, and let go of the rest.
And then I was offered a chance to go home again. Not to my childhood neighborhood, but to a place that shaped me and changed me forever. A few months ago I was asked to go to Oshawa, Ontario and speak to a group of friends about the Gospel. I spent thirteen years in that city teaching and ministering through a local church plant. During those years I learned a great deal about God, facing challenges, daring to step out with my dreams and disappointment. I experienced the highs of starting a new church to the lows of being diagnosed with MS and having to leave the ministry. But, most of all I had the privilege to make some tremendous friends who are still as close to me as close can be.
During these last seventeen years, Ruth and I have lived in a beautiful little tourist town on the coast of New Brunswick and, discounting my illness, we have enjoyed every minute of living here. But now I have the opportunity to go home again, not to walk the streets with ghosts of friends long gone, like in my old neighborhood, but to visit with people who helped shape my life. Through this blog I have made new friends in the Oshawa area as well, and look forward to meeting with them. So, apologies to Thomas Wolfe, I guess we can go home again if the community is still vibrant, full of friends and still glad to welcome you home.
So, if you’re free Friday evening the 20th of September and live in the Oshawa area I would love to invite you to come out and renew friendships face to face. I will be speaking about the grace of God, and what else could I use as a title for the talk but “Welcome Home”? We will be meeting in the chapel of the Simcoe Street United Church, 66 Simcoe St. South at 7:00pm. Ruth has a number of great praise songs worked out, so bring your musical instruments and singing voice and join us for a time of praise and worship. There will be more music and I will be speaking again Saturday afternoon
at 2:30pm in the same venue as Friday evening. The topic Saturday is based around Acts 2 and God’s plan for the New Testament church. Over the last seven or eight months this blog has been going I have made some great friends who I would never have met otherwise. I appreciate your comments, insights, discussions and concerns. You are part of this family as well, because we are all connected by the wonders of God’s saving grace and our trust in the reality that we will all be in the Kingdom of Heaven together.