This time of year makes me nostalgic. We first visited Ravensworth in March, 1988. Our only son, Jesse, was 9 months old. We were homesick and overwhelmed. We were quickly learning that what had seemed like a great salary was barely stretching to cover the cost of living in Northern Virginia. We looked back with longing on our life in Georgia, as we tried to settle into our new community. We felt like strangers in a strange and expensive land.
We came to church seeking comfort. What we found was a much needed “Word,” but not what you might imagine! When we landed in the Philippians’ Sunday school class, the lesson for the day was about the Israelites, who had just been led to a new land by Moses. At last, they were out of captivity, they had God’s presence with them, and all they could do was complain and look back with longing on their life in Egypt.
Cold comfort indeed! More like a gentle reprimand: you have what you need, God is in Virginia, too, so get on with your new life. It was what we needed to hear; and this was the place we needed to be on that Sunday. Then one Sundaybecame another, and now 27 years have passed; and we are still being challenged weekly by a much needed Word offered by the Spirit, through the body of Christ at Ravensworth.
I recently found the Bible I was using that spring. In it, I have notes I hurriedly scribbled on the day that the leader of our class, Joe Womack, concluded his year of teaching. (He had agreed to take the class for a year while Carolyn Schirmer had a sabbatical.) He eloquently summarized what we learn from scripture about the movement of the Spirit of God in the world: it is movement from chaos to order; from barrenness to life; from despair to deliverance; from death to resurrection; from brokenness and alienation, to wholeness and reconciliation.
His words have come back to me as we emerge from the cold, dark days of Lent and winter, into the warmth and light of Easter and spring. It feels like the Spirit is moving around us and within us. I am amazed and grateful to be a part of Ravensworth, where we are still living into the good Word received that Sunday in March: we have each other, God is with us, and we are moving with the Spirit into yet another new beginning in our life together.