Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Reunion

When people ask where we're from, we generally say St. Louis. Although neither of us feels a real affinity toward what was our home city for 7 years, it was our most recent address and so it feels like the right thing to say.

We arrived in St. Louis last night, after spending a week in Chicago. And I'll admit that it felt good to be "home." Our house sits on the market, and so we're sleeping down the street. But walking the same streets, visiting our favorite restaurants and shopping at the same stores feels lusciously comfortable. We visited a grocery store yesterday, and it felt like a reunion with old friends. We used to hang out with Wheat Thins. Remember when we ate Pizza Rolls? Ah, we loved that barbeque sauce!

St. Louis feels comfortable, and in a way that Shanghai may never feel comfortable. But comfort is the end of our feelings toward St. Louis. Beyond our family and friends (and the horrible housing market), precious few things act as a magnet trying to pull us back to St. Louis. The exception to the rule is New City Fellowship, our church.

New City is a transient church, pulling many members from the denomination's seminary in town. Its the type of church with very few people in attendance in Christmas, and so we knew very few other attendees in the pew this morning. But even though our friends were missing, I still felt at home. The pastors were the same, and the music was the same. The style of the worship had not strayed, and the type of community had lasted through a cycle of people. Young families with loads of kids filled the pews, and little noisemakers buzzed throughout the first portion of the service. A crew of instrumentalists lined up behind the worship team, and voiced their instruments whenever they seemed appropriate. Refugee families filled the pews, gathered by nationality. In many ways it felt like our church in Shanghai, with different colored faces and different styles of clothes. But in this crowd, many of the faces were refugee families and others were people intent on serving God's people. In our crowd in Shanghai, we're all expatriates on corporate packages and although we mix with other nationalities, we don't meet economic diversity in our daily lives (although we pass it on the street, and employ it in our homes).

The girls went to Sunday School, and sang along with the worship songs. Dave and I enjoyed the company and the sermon. It felt good to be home, and sad to miss such a wonderful community.

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