This past weekend, I headed out to Virginia Beach, VA. I was there primarily to recruit wrestlers for Augsburg College at the AAA Virginia State Wrestling Tournament. But, I got to visit and preach at my “home” congregation, St. Michael Lutheran Church. Since 2005, St. Michael has been a meaningful place for my faith. I’ve grown in so many ways – fellowship, doing youth and kids ministry, serving on church council, assisting with worship, and even utilizing my organ-playing skills during Lent in 2008 (long story).
St. Michael has also helped me through some tough times in my life – carrying me through them, and in their witness to me, helping me wrestle with tough questions about God and life, about this gospel message we proclaim, a message about the move from death to life…..cross to resurrection.
It’s been over 2 years since I’ve last been back. We still claim each other – they are my “home congregation;” I am one of their members – but there aren’t as many familiar faces, and the faces that are, aren’t as well known. It’s the reality of being away, you drift a part as you’re not so integrated into their lives on a daily basis.
However, there are some experiences that just tie us together. Last week, someone who I had known well, passed away suddenly. Her health was declining, but she got sick, and within about an hour of being in the ER, she died. This was one of a few tough deaths the congregation has been through. And, if you’ve been following this blog at all, you know from my life, that I’ve had a tough winter in the way of close deaths too. Really, death is an experience that ties all of us together. In a very striking and somber way, our mortality is one of the fundamental things of what it means to be human.
I’ve found that faith and trust are hard in such moments….but perhaps not so much in community. This mini-homecoming reminded me of that. We never trust alone – we are given the gift of people in community to surround us where God and the Spirit are present, being faithful to us, caring for us, even in the smallest of trust. It points to a God who is so faithful to us always, fully, even when we aren’t and can’t be.
We never trust alone….that’s something to be thankful for, and perhaps, something that nurtures and strengthens our own meager faith.