They said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I came down from heaven’?”
I’m not one who enjoys change, but I do quite like new beginnings. One of the best things about going to university was being able to leave the past behind. No longer would I be defined by my school’s social hierarchy – I could reinvent myself and start all over again!
But when you’ve moved away, it can be hard going back. When I return to an old church to preach I wonder how many people are actually listening to my sermon, and how many are dwelling on the mistakes I made fifteen years ago, or thinking “Ah, there’s James. He’s one of ours. What a lovely boy. I remember when he sang Walking in the Air to raise money for charity. Hilarious.” After all, how can you take a preacher seriously as a harbinger of God when you have warm fuzzy memories of him as an awkward sixteen-year old sweating through his first ever sermon?
Even though Canterbury is a new place for me, Ruth’s family has lived here for a long time. When we first arrived it was odd to meet people that I didn’t know, but who already seemed to know bits and pieces about me because of the news that had, quite understandably, trickled down the family grapevine. Sometimes your hopes for a fresh beginning are shipwrecked from the start.
People change, hopefully for the better, and sometimes in a very short space of time. We don’t do anyone a favour by assuming that they’re still the person that they were ten years ago and treating them as such. One of the kindest things you can do for someone else is to leave plenty of room in your head for them to grow.