"In heaven, will God ask for papers?"

Thursday, October 3, 2013

“I’m gonna make this place your home”

I wrote this brief article for Peace Lutheran's most recent newsletter.

This week, I have talked about the same thing with almost all of the high schoolers with whom I have chatted: HOMECOMING.
It’s that time of the year—all of my young friends have just finished Homecoming festivities, or are getting ready for them. Some are most excited about the dress-up days, some the football game, others the Homecoming dance. No matter their social standing or what they think of school, they seem to be thinking about Homecoming.
I have wrestled a lot with the concept of “Homecoming.” I haven’t been back for Homecoming at either my high school or university, even though part of the point, in my understanding, of Homecoming is for alumni to “come back home.”
You see, it’s hard for me to pinpoint where my “home” is. I grew up in Iowa, attended college in South Dakota, have spent time throughout Central America and traveling throughout the US, and now live in El Paso. I have spent time at many different churches, workplaces, and houses. When I think of “home,” I don’t just think of my hometown, my high school, or even El Paso. I think of all the places where I have lived, visited—where I have experienced life—and the people who influenced me during my time there. I do think of my surroundings—the view of the Rock River in Iowa, the campus of Augustana, the smell of Managua—but I also think of the smiling, beautiful faces and the warm embraces of the people I have met, and the countless things I have learned about the world, about other people, and about myself.
One of the most important “homes” for me was my church in Rock Rapids, Iowa, where I attended for the first 18 years of my life.  That church community supported me for the first 3/4ths of my life, and continues to support me even while I live 24 hours away. The Immanuel Lutheran community of Rock Rapids will always be a home for me.
And this is what I want for our young people here at Peace. I want to give them a space they can make their own (hence the painting overnight!)—where they are free to explore their faith and grow as a community together. I want them to feel supported by the rest of the church community, no matter the age, background, or experiences of other members of Peace. I want them to see the beauty of El Paso and see what they can learn from our larger community by serving together.
I want this to become one of their “homes.” A place where they can feel safe, supported, and, most importantly, loved.

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