Today marks the official end of the Des Moines, Iowa chapter of our lives. Rick left town this afternoon at about three, and he's right this minute somewhere in Kansas or northern Oklahoma, hoping to arrive here in the wee hours. Then we'll all be Texans again, after an eleven-year hiatus.
I never actually expected to be back in Texas again. In my mind, I was prepared to remain in Iowa permanently. I'm not a huge fan of oppressive heat, which is a prominent feature of Texas summertime. I'm also not a huge fan of traditional church -- something we left behind intentionally when we headed north because we were agreeing to work with a church that bore no resemblance to traditional churches. I loved the contemporary worship and the purpose-driven style, and felt there would be no way I'd go back to the old way.
And yet, here I am back in Texas, in a much smaller town that the one we left behind back in January, 1996, and in a church which made me feel as though I had entered the Tardis in Des Moines and emerged in 1981 (minus the woollen plaid skirts and knee socks and cableknit sweaters) in North Ruralville. Even now, when I go to church here, I feel strange and disconnected, as if I ought to know what I'm doing but forgot it all a long time ago.
Let's see, how can I describe it? The worship style at First Baptist, North Ruralville, isn't even traditional. It seems more like a disjointed afterthought than anything else, honestly. But maybe that's how it always was, and I just never noticed because I wasn't clued-in to how it can really work. You see, it doesn't have to matter whether it's traditional music or contemporary music or Gregorian chant music -- or even thrash metal music... good planning and good execution can make any church's worship better. Adding the latest Chris Tomlin song to the worship service won't necessarily make anything better if the execution stinks.
Surely all the years of experience I gained weren't for nothing... I've never known God to work that way. But it sure feels weird to be back in BaptistLand, especially considering that it feels just about like it did when we left eleven years ago. I think I can almost understand the bewilderment of the Pevensie children when they stumbled back out of the Wardrobe after having spent years and years as Narnians, finding that time had not progressed and nothing had changed.