Proud To Be Part Of This Family07.24.10

I grew up the youngest of six Lundquist kids. At school or in the neighborhood that was my identity. I had older brothers and sisters I was very proud of, rightfully or not. I felt safe and special when people nodded affirmingly at hearing my father’s name. Later, when pain and problems tore my family apart, I still felt something deep when someone recognized my family name, but it wasn’t always pride.

Although raised in a church, the gift of faith didn’t touch my life until high school. By then, I was already long gone from intentional church attendance. When I began to shop for a church (a metaphor which sadly reveals much), I was gun shy, perhaps jumpier than I needed to be about group identity. I didn’t mind getting involved, but I had a deep hesitation about committing, promising myself indefinitely to any human institution. What if I changed, or they did? What if, as was the case in my parents’ marriage, things happened, and unbidden, unwelcome demons emerged? What do promises made to God mean then?

I finally joined a church, actually a family of churches known as the Evangelical Covenant Church, in the early ‘80s. What drew me in was an odd combination of human warmth and solid mooring in history and scripture. Old ladies who remembered my name and looked in my eyes as they asked about my week of waitressing and studies, pastors who took time to listen to the hopes, dreams, and many criticisms of a transitory young person, seminary teachers who prayed as they taught, and lived what they taught: Alive in Christ! God works in and through my history and all history! Mercy, justice and compassion are God’s character, and ours as we follow Christ! Here at last was a group which seemed big enough to embrace me even if I tried and failed, doubted and challenged, or grew and changed. Trusting this vision, I took the plunge.

Sadly, there is often quite a gap between the ideal and the reality. A core vision of a group is not always reflected in the practices of local churches, and so over the next ten years of working in a local U.S. church and then visiting churches as a missionary I not infrequently stumbled across situations which painfully reminded me of the gap between the two. At times this gap made me feel sad, angry, and  doubtful of  God’s power to change us all.

The last fifteen years I’ve been pretty immersed in being a mom in Japan and haven’t spent much time in the U.S., so when I attended the annual meeting of our group last month I was blown away. The core vision which had attracted me way back when was now the reality, and so much of what had made me impatient, hurt, and frustrated in the early years had disappeared. The church I had fallen in love with had become even more of what I’d loved it for. Here was a place where neither clothes, accent, socio-economic status, race, or marital status barred people from full acceptance in the community or full participation in the work of God in the world. Of course, nothing and nobody is perfect yet, but I’m sure proud to be on this road with these companions.

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Posted by Andrea Johnson under Church.

5 Responses to “Proud To Be Part Of This Family”

  1. Beautifully said! Keep writing!

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    Posted by Amy Cornell on 12/13/09 July 26th, 2010 at 9:52 AMReply

    • Thanks, Amy. Glad to hear that Matcha connects with your experience. Tim mentioned he saw you in MN. A.

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      Posted by Andrea Johnson on 12/13/09 July 26th, 2010 at 11:03 AMReply

  2. How nice to come home. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh……………………..

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    Posted by Julie Wiley on 12/13/09 July 26th, 2010 at 9:55 AMReply

  3. I knew nothing about your background, but I felt drawn to this blog (don’t usually read blogs). My eyes teared up a little, and I’m SO glad you have found a place you can call home! I agree with Amy. It WAS beautifully written.

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    Posted by Lois Johnson on 12/13/09 November 3rd, 2010 at 4:34 AMReply

    • Thanks Lois. God is wonderful to bring good out of even dark and ugly things (though in the middle we feel overwhelmed by it all). Guess the cross is a timeless reminder of that if we can see beyond the surface.

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      Posted by Andrea Johnson on 12/13/09 November 3rd, 2010 at 8:48 AMReply

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