Friday, April 23, 2010

The pain of being known

A wonderful surprise yesterday, with a text from Kiwi friend, Paul McMahon, with news that he was flying from Christchurch to Sydney for 2 days to attend a family funeral. Yes, we so happen to be in Sydney and yes, we can catch up. So as we finished a wonderful tea, in Newtown (must blog about that gem of a Sydney suburb), Paul walked through the door.

Another wine glass please waiter and so the conversation began! Poor kids, who wouldn’t get home until 11 pm!

We met Paul and Anne within days of them arriving in Christchurch, both of us looking for houses and hoping to settle. I was just starting at Opawa, while Paul was just starting toward his Masters in Theology, pursuing his passion – a Kingdomly just world as it might be shaped by government. (He did his Masters on a Christian theology of tax).

Paul was a student in my classes. Together Paul and Anne helped us plant espresso, one of Opawa’s congregations. Paul joined the paid pastoral team at Opawa in 2008. He is exercising what Uniting churches would call Ministry of Deacon, ordained with a focus on the community and building bridges from the community back into the church and under his leadership, Opawa’s engagement with the community has strengthened and deepened. He’s done it superbly well.

He also worked as a Researcher for me/Angelwings – tutoring in some of my subjects, helping me with research, sometimes preparing lecture notes – all stuff that enabled me to accept various speaking engagements beyond Opawa and Laidlaw College

So it was a wonderful time, but a sharp reminder of loss – friend, pastoral colleague, church, speaking. One of the reasons I’m having to work so hard at the moment at Uniting College is because I’ve lost Paul from the team that was around me. Such is the pain of moving, you build a team, and then have to start again.

In Australia everything is new. Sitting with Paul I realised once again what it was like to be known, to have history, to have done life, to have become comfortable in weakness. It was such a wonderful time, yet a reminder of the pain and grief that walks with me in these days.

Posted by steve at 09:30 AM