Today, my home church of the last five years (and more if you want to count our whole genealogy as a church) officially closed its doors with a “final celebration” gathering. I’ve been seeing many New Hopers across the blogosphere, twitterverse, and facebo…ok (can YOU think of one for facebook?) express their gratitude for the time spent as a part of our community and I thought I would jump on the bandwagon.
There really are just too many things worth talking about as I think back on my New Hope journey, so I’m going to narrow it down to one. Many of us at New Hope are familiar with the airport metaphor that’s been used to describe our church—not so much a permanent destination, but a place where many from different paths converge for a time, refuel and then go back out to fulfill their purpose. It’s only just hit me now how true that metaphor has been during the life of New Hope. As I think back, the list of how many people we’ve thanked, prayed for, and sent off to wherever God was leading continues to grow. I am in fact a part of that list. I’m bummed that I couldn’t physically be present for the final party at New Hope South Bay, but I think it’s only fitting that I’m celebrating New Hope and all it represents as one of many who has received the blessing of “leaving” the church with full encouragement and support. I think the genuineness of the encouragement and support is evidenced in part by the fact that many of us who were sent off have always made it back to New Hope in one form or another. You can never truly leave family.
Now, it seems that there will be no official New Hope to come back to. As sad as that is, I’m confident that what doesn’t exist in name will still exist in essence among those of us who have shared life together as a church family. I can say that because although New Hope was hardly perfect, I believe it was made up of people who loved honestly and lived purposefully. On that note, I’m grateful for what has been, and I look forward to what is to come, which hopefully will still include many hellos, hugs, and happy times with those of us who made it a goal to experience Christ and embrace humanity.