It’s taken nearly three years for it to dawn in me that Latvians like anniversaries and that the yearly anniversary of the local church is very important. Last Sunday I attended a particularly important anniversary. It was exactly a year since the new building at Bauska corps was opened. There was a great gathering of the clans, and Salvationists from Riga and Iecava came to give their support and join in the celebration.
Vineta, the officer in charge, had worked really hard. Invitations had been sent out, a guest worship leader had been invited, special recognition was given to those who worked in the various ministries, and I was asked to go and preach the sermon. I was feted with some lovely gifts, including the inevitable flowers, which adorn the coffee table in front of me as I write. One of Vineta’s special gifts is hospitality, so the whole meeting concluded with the usual ‘sadraudziba’, where we all had tasty soup, savouries and cakes before finally going home. Well done to Vineta and her team for a lovely day!
In a strange way, this first anniversary of the building was, if anything, more meaningful than the actual opening last year, because this year there was something to look back on. Memories had been made. Some personal memories came back to me as I sat in the service. I remembered the first time I had preached in the hall and been so welcomed and blessed by the fellowship shared. I remember the Christmas party I’d attended, the children’s day camp (holiday club) I’d visited, the visit of the choir from Staines in the UK, and the joyful, first wedding held in the new hall which I’d attended, when Dace and Filip got married.
Last year we may have been celebrating the ‘bricks and mortar’ which make up this beautiful, beautiful church, but this year we were celebrating the real church, a welcoming community, where God’s loving presence is already being recognised and experienced.