We have been blessed as members of this congregation since we joined about 4 years ago; especially the last three months of 2018. I have never thought of living my live courageously even though I spent 20 year in the Marine Corps. Of the twelve different places I lived I always had a Lutheran family to lean upon. Courtney, my daughter was baptized in Hawaii and Christian in Fairfax, Virginia outside Washington DC. Even in Japan, I had a sizable Lutheran family on base. And, we still often visit our Lutheran friends in North Carolina when we travel south visit our son and his family. Now we are with our Lutheran family at Christ Lutheran Church.
After some health issues, which Andrea will touch upon, we finally made it to the month of December. Andrea and I were at a dinner party with members of our church family that were celebrating the upcoming Christmas holiday when I received a call from my sister in Iowa. My 90 year-old mother had had a stroke and was in the hospital. She was not doing well.
Friends immediately shared words of encouragement and thoughts of comfort and prayer. It helped me deal with the immediate shock I felt after receiving the call. Mom eventually passed just before Christmas and we buried her just after. Upon our return from Iowa, we saw that we had received many sympathy cards from the congregation. Many members came to me to personally express their condolences. We think things like, “She lived a good life…It’s the natural order of life… She’s in a better place.” But is comforting to actually hear the words, “I am sorry for your loss.”
I have always lived my life with a sentence from John 14:17 in mind, “Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” God has always been with us through all our Lutheran families and friends, especially now at Christ Lutheran Church. We never know when or how we will need support. It is comforting to know that someone will always be there for us, to give help, share encouragement, and offer prayers. And equally important that we can do the same in return.
After living together in 12 different places, Jim and I came to Indiana, and to Christ Lutheran Church. We were welcomed with your incredible gift of hospitality. Everyone we met was so kind, and helped us to explore the available opportunities to serve as a part of this faith community. You welcomed us to our final church home, and encouraged us to join you in God’s mission.
Your encouragement was given again when in October, I needed open-heart surgery to replace a bicuspid aortic valve, a birth defect. After 60 some years, that strange valve was thick, calcified, and my heart was failing. This is not a tale of me being courageous, however, as it is of you all encouraging me. You gave me emotional support by visiting and talking with me. You encouraged me (gave me courage) to know that I am a beloved daughter of God. You gave me spiritual support with your prayers - from the pastor, the prayer group, and the entire congregation. When the time came, I felt lifted up, and knew that God was in the operating room with me, guiding the hands of the surgeon and staff. Then, as if that wasn’t enough, you gave me physical support with nutritious meals during the long recovery. Through it all I felt like a daughter of God - loved and supported.
We meet God through our relationships with others. You here at Christ Lutheran Church are all stewards of God’s grace. You are God’s hands, and I have been the recipient of His grace through you. I am grateful and humbled to be a member of this faith community, and hope to be a source of en’courage’ment to others.