This is day 28 in a series: 31 Letters from London. And it will be the last installment as I have lost my mind thinking I could write every day in October while at the same time, finish the manuscript for my first book. Oy Vey! Idealism is good but not when you need to be realistic. If you are interested in reading from day one, begin here and find the collection of letters here.
It’s about time I tell you about St. Barnabas, Kensington (STBK), the church who brought us here to London.
I have put it off because I don’t have proper pictures to show you of the amazing people who have wrapped their arms around us. And I don’t have time to tell you about the history in this beautiful structure built in 1829 with stained glass windows created by the famous Edward Burne-Jones. But see what I just did there? I linked you up if you are interested in learning more.
I have trouble writing about this because it feels almost sacred to put words on the way God links us with people, places and purpose.
The first time we walked up the concrete steps into the blue doors of this historical church, people standing in a circle broke apart as soon as they laid eyes on us. I felt like the bride and groom finally arriving at the reception after a long photo shoot across the ocean.
Except instead of toasting us with well wishes, they encircled us and prayed fervently with thanksgiving, prophesying hope like family members.
H is only a part time vicar. He was asked to come to St. Barnabas as an associate, tasked with something unusual. The pastor and his wife were sensing their time leading the church was coming to an end so because of H’s broad experience, they asked him to coach and lead the church through a transition.
Most people don’t want to enter a new place or position during a season of upheaval but not my man. This is where he thrives well in his gifting. H is fulfilling the role of leading the church through an interim period (or Interregnum as the Anglicans call it), the process of searching for a new vicar.
And here’s a little secret. I wasn’t too excited about H pastoring again. We were enjoying sitting in the audience instead of arranging chairs and standing behind pulpits. But I can’t wait until Sunday morning arrives now. Not kidding.
Generosity, faithfulness and commitment are qualities we look for in a partner for marriage. We found the right match in St. Barnabas. We are thankful.
The other day my friend Deidra asked this question on Facebook: “Home. What is it? Is it a place, a concept, an experience? How do you define, home?”
I responded. Home isn’t a place as much as a sense of belonging. It is the place where you can be fully yourself, accepted, loved and cherished for who you are, not what you do.
The people at St. Barnabas welcome in a way that makes you feel like you’re sitting with all your neighbors in your grandparents kitchen eating a stack of pancakes covered in maple syrup. Just because they know pancakes are your favorite. We are home.
All those months when we were waiting to move to London, weeping and wondering why God was silent, they were waiting too. While we were preparing for a cross cultural move, God was preparing the people to receive us.
Waiting isn’t a solitary endeavor. While you are waiting, biting your fingernails and stressing out about the unknowns to all your questions, God is pulling together a host of people, places and circumstances in a way that your mind cannot begin to fathom or compute.
Rest assured He is silent but He is never still.
He is working all things together for your good and His timing is perfect.
You can follow St. Barnabas on Twitter @STBKChurch and like us on Facebook @St. Barnabas Church Kensington and listen to sermons here. If you are visiting the city, we would love to see you!
My hope is to attend worship there someday, Shelly, and to hug you and to hear H preach. The longer I live, I never cease to be amazed at how our Divine Networker intricately, minutely orchestrates details with great precision and impeccable timing. I think of how I met you, Shelly–on what apparently was an unusual link-up for you at Ann Voskamp’s blog (how I found her is yet another minutely intricate story), and then . . . what made me click on *your* link out of the multitudes? So many use to link to her site. And I remember so well your describing your wait, and just thinking how you would not crack up, but the chrysalis would crack open at just the precise time you needed to wing your way across the ocean, at just the time these blessed parishioners would embrace you in the warmth of their Church-chrysalis, were you would be loved, protected, and nourished–all in God’s great and good time! This church is such a beautiful place, and it is heartening to know that real CHristian fellowship exists there. I met Christian Brits who lamented the demise of the Church in England. I, myself, have entered empty cathedrals. I rejoice to know that Christ is alive and well at St. Barnabas’!
it is so neat to see God work in our lives like that! glad it’s such a good place for you all!
After a long day of house hunting and confusion, I’ll take your words as God writing to me!!! Thank you again Shelly for letting him speak through you. It has so ministered to me.
“Rest assured, He is silent but never still.”
Thank you for that.
God has allowed me to worship in churches in many places in the world. So often when I am singing at church I think about those places and the people there, I revisit the hallowed moments, the way the Holy Spirit was among us. Many of those times I was unable to understand what was being spoken. I’m so thankful that now STBK comes into those memories after I had the privilege worshiping with you all this summer among a sweet welcoming fellowship. The bonus was I did understand the words. I love the church of Jesus how it reflects the beauty of the God we worship in our bents shining forth to His glory like jewels in a crown. I love the blue doors—they speak…”Come, come to Me…” I hope many Londoners take the invitation. They won’t be disappointed.
Thank you sharing this truth perspective. We are at an awkward waiting right now. Career, school, church related. We just received our new Pastor and his family in our church. But Tim and I are looking to move, though it hasnt happened yet. I kept wondering with us leaving how on earth are we to react to new Pastors? What is our role? Afer having tea with his wife The Lord gave me the word “cheerleader” which sounds wierd. Just encourage them to set their feet and set down roots. What a feeling of peace that was. To know in our awkward stage of waiting, of course, we still have a purpose, a serving purpose. Your line of “silent but still active” really pin pointed this.
What a beautiful description of home and encouragement for the long periods of waiting. I’m almost glad you didn’t have proper photos or space to tell of STBK history, because your words alone were more than enough to make me feel like I was sitting in my grandparents’ kitchen eating pancakes. What a thing it will be to be gathered in the feast-hall of heaven with all of the saints who have come home!
Oh, I love that statement: “God may be silent but he is never still.” Such truth wrapped in glorious hope! I also love how God has engineered your circumstances, bringing you to St. Barnabas at this particular time, and the enthusiasm he’s given you for the task at hand: interim leadership. I have a sense that these months will be filled with joy, and when the time comes to turn over the ministry to God’s chosen, you’ll be completely at peace. Praise God in advance for what he will do through H and you!