Longing for home

I just spent three days on the campus of my seminary (Calvin) and its attached college, shepherding eight teens (plus my own two little kiddos) through a conference for recipients of the worship grant that we were gifted with this year. That was the main event, for me, of those three days.

Meanwhile, the campus was hopping with other activity: the Christian Reformed Church Synod and, overlapping with it, the Reformed Church General Synod. Big personal excitement: I got to see two friends (briefly) who were delegates to each.

I think about denominations and the fracturing of the big-C Church every time I visit my old seminary, because I am no longer a minister of the denomination that raised and formed me. It’s bittersweet to see my classmates, not to be a delegate to Synod with them, not to serve on the same committees, not to be part of that body anymore. I miss them.

And I miss some of the wonderful quirky things about my old denomination (Canadians, conservative theology with a hefty dose of liberal social justice, peppermints in worship, even stubborn old Dutch guys who have trouble with change…)

I don’t think I’m ever going back, though. Five and a half years after becoming Presbyterian, I’ve gotten comfortable here. I think I want to stay.

I used to think of myself as an exile, but the truth is that I chose to leave. Largely for better and more opportunities to serve.

A friend who has a similar ministry path through the denominational wilderness recently mentioned that she uses the metaphor of immigrant to describe her journey. And so the old denomination becomes the old country…but by now, she’s firmly settled in the new country, enjoys visits to the old country, but knows that she lives where she belongs. That’s helpful to me.

But I still miss “home”.

The CRC and the RCA, which have a secure ecclesiastical relationship with each other, had their Synods overlap partly to conduct some joint business, but, I imagine, also to poke around the edges a little at the idea of inter-denominational unity, and maybe, just maybe, the nagging suspicion of some that these two denominations ought to consider getting back together. (They parted way in the late 1800s over issues that since have largely become irrelevant.)

My friend who’s an RCA delegate mentioned to me that for some people in the RCA, the more pressing question is not unity with the CRC, but with the PCUSA.

And then, there’s me, the (Dutch, Calvin Seminary educated, CRC-ordained) Presbyterian minister wandering around this campus where you can’t throw a peppermint without hitting a Reformed elder or pastor. And I’m wondering if I might live to see the day when all three denominations could get together. That might be the only way I get to go home. I wish I could be more hopeful about the possibility.

Of course, there’s always hope for the joyful reunion of the Church in the New Creation…

(Come quickly, Lord Jesus.)

One Response to “Longing for home”

  1. susan sb Says:

    Thanks for sharing these thoughts. You captured some of the things I miss about home/the old country as well. Ah, peppermints and Psalm singing!

    So glad you can keep one foot in the old home and remain in relationship. We are in a strange place though…us Dutch, Calvinist now PCUSA female pastors. I’m thankful to have a sister on that sometimes painful and unique journey!

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