Thursday, September 30, 2010

Chalk. It. Up.

Sunday was one of those Sundays for the books. But it was memorable in a sneaky way. You could almost miss it and I would hate for you to miss it. So here are a few reasons I will always remember September 26, 2010 at St. John's.
  1. Two young couples joined our ranks. One is getting married in December and I'm doing their wedding. The other helped plan a grandparent's funeral here last spring and it has felt like home ever since. I love new people and watching others gather around getting to know them and showering them with welcome. One of these newbies has not yet been baptized. I look forward to splashing him with holy promises and new life in Christ.
  2. It was Pack the Church Sunday. We tried this last year and our worship attendance increased by 80%! This year our worship attendance wasn't much higher than usual, but just about everyone brought a visitor. It was fun to meet the friends, family and neighbors who came and hear what they loved. One had been excluded from his home congregation's communion table for a long time. It was an honor to place bread in his hands. Another was overwhelmed by the noise of children helping, making music and crawling up the aisle. She teared up sharing what those young faces meant to her.
  3. We took a noisy offering. Our 10th graders were in charge of this offering, which they collected in noisy tin cans. People dropped their loose change in trying to make as much noise as possible. It was a great way to include visitors who might normally feel anxious about this part of the liturgy. They were all told in advance and came with baggies and socks of change. The noise had everyone giggling and it all added up to $335.96 for hunger ministries through Second Harvest Heartland.
  4. The construction dust was flying. Our narthex expansion and kitchen update projects have begun! St. John's is 127 years old, so new and tangible projects that everyone participates in and remembers bridges old members with new members. We all stood in awe of how our space is changing and slowing becoming more welcoming.
  5. So many people were involved. This is my third fall at St. John's and - boy- are we waking up! People say YES and participate and offer to lead and get others involved and believe that being part of things is stewardship and discipleship and life giving and bearing good fruit.
I could go on and on. I love these people. I love this call. I love the ways we are living into the growth they knew they were made for when they asked me to join them a few years ago.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Two Tablespoons of Gudrun

I have a lot of wild aunties in my life. One of them is a tall and generous woman named Gudrun. She sprinkles her speech and storytelling with Norwegian phrases that warm your soul and snaps her fingers when she forgets the next word. She gets tipsy at family weddings and teaches old people the electric slide, busting so many joyful moves that she needs a Cortizone shot in her knee the next day. When her life changed with the removal of her reproductive organs, she gave them ceremony and burial while rejoicing for the children they helped make. She lives out loud, naming things that are lovely or hard and, often, both.

Gudrun lives on Lake Superior. Her backyard unfolds into a sandy beach and you can find her there walking with her dog and handsome husband. She's the one with wind whipped hair and arms filled with trash she picks up along the way. She's the one you see and think yourself I'll bet she is worth knowing well. And she is.

I am blessed to be welcoming a new sister into my life this year. Gabe is getting married next summer and Cara is quite the family acquisition! I love this woman for her wisdom and words, thoughtfulness and humor. Cara is worth knowing well, too.

Gabe and Cara have decided to make kransekake for their wedding reception, a Norwegian wedding favorite. In order to learn (and to lap up a weekend of maternal love and care on the north shore) Cara and I spent last weekend at Gudrun's house baking and laughing. Gudrun's daughter Laura came over and the kitchen filled with estrogen, our conversations nourishing each other.

Gudrun is the first person who has asked to hold my growing belly and burst out in songful melody. When she was done with the ditty, I looked down at my unborn and sent a silent message: That was Gudrun - I'll explain her later. This kid doesn't know it yet, but soon its photograph will adorn her refrigerator that operates like a string of prayer beads, filled with images of people and places that Gudrun holds in her heart. It's a good place to be.

Cara and I drove home in agreement the next day. The simple visit filled us up. Sure, we were full of chili and vaffler and delicious tea and the extra kransekake dough. But we were also filled with the love of a wild woman who took time to shower us with celebration and wisdom. As we rounded a cloverleaf on the highway just south of Duluth, I felt the child within me do a complete 360.

There were lots of reasons to leap and flip for joy on Saturday. I have no doubt that our dose of Gudrun was one of them.