I don't know whether it's just a sign of me getting older, or the result of an extremely taxing year, but I'm sitting at my computer three days away from Christmas and I'm really NOT feeling "Christmassy" at all.
Part of the problem is that I'm still feeling fairly shattered after the rigours of Phase One. And I must say, while it was a great learning and growing experience for me, and I encountered some amazing people along the way, I'm glad that the system as it currently stands has been done away with. While the concept of hands-on experience is a good one, mixing it with cross-cultural ministry has been somewhat daunting - especially when you actually know nothing at all about ministry! Add to that being sent 1000 km away from home, without your family, and its as though your entire support system has been whipped out from under you.
Then there's the question of "re-entry". Like it or not, I'm not the same person I was a year ago, and the same goes for the rest of my family - which is making reintegration quite challenging. When you live on your own, you are master of all you survey. Now I have to get used to sharing my attention, my time, and my living space with others again, and it's not easy. Even sharing a bed with my wife has been difficult, although this was only for four days until the truck uplifted our queen-size bed, together with a whole lot of other furniture, to take to the seminary in Pietermaritzburg where I will be spending the next two years of my ministry journey.
So right now I'm feeling a bit disjointed - especially since I no longer have a set of keys to my own house (I was away for a year, will be here for four weeks, and then off again for two years, so it doesn't make sense to cut me a set - but still!), my car and scooter are at SMMS (which means I have to borrow Belinda's - not a problem, except when she needs to go out), our bedroom is empty except for a blow-up mattress, and I'm a "visitor" at every church I go to.
My main concern, though, for not feeling as though I'm in the Christmas spirit right now, is that I have been afforded the privilege of preaching at the Christmas Day service - my first ever - at St Andrews this year. My "ex ex" Superintendent thankfully still feels that he can relax while on leave in Klerksdorp some 200km away while entrusting his congregation to my grubby little paws. Yet, given the way I'm feeling right now, I have absolutely no clue as to what to share with them. Do I preach a shmaltzy, sweet, "feel-good" Christmas message, or do I do something a bit more hard-hitting and challenging? There is likely to be a number of visitors, and usually church is quite full with children on Christmas Day as well, so one needs to be sensitive without being sickly.
Whatever I do, I KNOW that I need to share the love of Jesus with them - for their sakes, as well as for mine!
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