Advent Devotion 15

The Joy of Going Through Home Again

L. Lee Whitlock

 

I have indeed received much joy and encouragement from your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you.

Philemon 1:7

 

“We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” (T.S. Eliot) I understood Eliot when I returned to CHBC after an absence of almost four decades. I joined CHBC in 1968 while a student at the SBTS. SBTS was deeply influential in my intellectual and theological journey, but it was CHBC that taught to put those elements into practical use.

 

My detour from CHBC and SBTS in 1974 took me to three pastorates in North Carolina, a stint as a middle school teacher, and a business career that allowed me to travel to 43 states and 35 countries. That period also led me into a period of struggling with a family disease, alcoholism. Father, mother, brother, sister, and I sought through “spirit” alcohol to feel the “Spirit” that was lacking in our pilgrimage. Dr. Carl Jung wrote to Bill Wilson, one of the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous, “You see, ‘alcohol’ in Latin is ‘spiritus’ and you use the same word for the highest religious experience as well as for the most depraving poison. The helpful formula therefore is: spiritus contra spiritum.” One way or another, Jung said in essence, “We will get spirit into our system.” My return to CHBC was part of that search for a deeper, joyful, spiritual experience.

 

In February 2012, I took a seat in what has become “my pew” at CHBC. I joined the full fellowship four months later. In November 2012, I was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, and this fellowship showed me the spirit and joy of Christ acted out and the joy of fellowship in full bloom. The result of all my exploration had led me to know this fellowship for the first time.

 

Dear Lord and Parent of all, forgive our foolish wanderings and accept our gratitude for the fellowship you have created through your Son, Jesus Christ. The Church of Jesus allows joy to bloom and service to one another to take wing. Make us an example of our faith acted out. Amen.