Saturday at Assembly has been a day full of meeting friends from my past, people who I never expected to see at Assembly. One lady looked familiar across a couple of tables and I could see that she was looking at me, vaguely recognising me but unable to place the face. And then I clicked, I had met her when looking after a church in the Lake District during the summer holidays when I was a student. When the realisation dawned we greeted each other with huge hugs.
And then there were more friends from my first calling church who I knew from the days when our children were little but are now in their thirties, married with children of their own. They told me of more folk who were here who I had not seen for nearly twenty years. It has to be noted that one can be at Assembly and never meet friends who you know are also at Assembly.
So knowing that they were here was special and then as I left the main area in the evening I saw them. More hugs!
For one lady, this is her very first Assembly but her presence is very special to me as she supported me through college. They wondered if they might see me but had no idea that I would be getting my hand shake tomorrow evening.
And there is more... as I made my way through the crowds to go to bed, sitting chatting was one of my referees, an incredibly busy lady who started her high profile ministry as Assistant Minister at the church where I spent twenty years as a pastoral group leader, youth leader, Girl’s Brigade Officer and deacon. I had heard rumours that she had been seen at Assembly so to have the chance of a quick chat before she sped off again was very precious.
I came here knowing that my friend from chapel would be supporting me and that a dear friend is coming across the country just for the evening while many friends would be praying for me and thinking of me from their homes. But now I know that there will be many friends at the service tomorrow who have been with me on some part of my journey over the last twenty three years.