Daily Devotions
 
Good Shepherd Lutheran Church

Daily Devotion

by Kristin Kalsem

“So in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”  Romans 12:5

When my son Andrew was in third grade, he and I took the first communion class with Pastor Pat. During the first class, Pastor Pat called on Andrew when he raised his hand, and she must have asked me to share something too. The reason I remember this is because, on our drive home, Andrew announced proudly from the back seat, “Pastor Pat KNOWS us Mom. She called us by our names and we didn’t have nametags or anything.”  Children tell it as it is:  It feels good to be known.

A few weeks later, Andrew’s first communion was coming up. My parents, who had been an integral part of my boys’ lives, were unable to come from Iowa because my Mom’s Parkinson’s had become too debilitating to travel. I was sad about all of this. It so happened that, at that time, I was on sabbatical and able to take a short course being offered on Thursday mornings as part of Bible Babes. I had met a couple of the women in the class before, but most were people whom I did not know. I mentioned during class that I was sad that Andrew would be celebrating his first communion without his grandparents there to share his special day.

That Sunday morning, we walked into church and one of the women from the class met us at the door. In an excited voice, she said, “Andrew – I hear it is your first communion today!”  We were greeted in a similar fashion by four other women before we reached the sanctuary. Andrew was beaming and my eyes were filled with tears of joy and gratitude. These women had not only made Andrew feel known, but that he belonged. He was part of this church family and people cared about this important milestone in his faith life.

I had that same sense of belonging at my home church in Des Moines, Iowa. I was baptized and confirmed there and attended Sunday School and services with many friends and relatives. On Sunday mornings, I looked forward to Lillian entertaining me by turning her handkerchief into a baby in a cradle and I could count on Vona Ann, who sang in the choir, to bring Dentyne cinnamon gum in her purse, just for me. When I moved to Cincinnati and found Good Shepherd, there was familiarity in the liturgy and the hymns, and the people seemed kind and friendly. But I didn’t really know anyone. Of course, I exchanged pleasantries with other parents as we waited outside the Sunday School rooms, but I wanted relationships--friendships--with church people like I had back home. Since I hadn’t been raised in this church family, I realized I was going to have to make some effort for that to happen. Soon I was signing up for the Kerygma Class that was a two-year study of the Bible. Then I did a Renewal weekend and met twelve of my now closest friends. Two years ago, I formed special bonds with the group who walked the Camino de Santiago in Spain, and, since the Pandemic, I have been co-leading a weekly group that meets to Walk, Talk, and Pray. I no longer feel like just a member of Good Shepherd; I feel like I belong.

Maybe some of you feel as I did a few years back, a little on the outside, not sure how to get closer to people who already seem to have so many friends. If that is you, I encourage you to find a way to get involved. Maybe you love to read and the book club is for you. Maybe you enjoy a good craft beer and Pub Theology sounds intriguing. Maybe you are concerned about social justice issues and want to participate in a Racism 101 class. Whatever it is, as we step tentatively back into a more “normal” world, this might be just the right time to decide what would make you feel most at home in our church family.

Andrew is in college now, but he knows Good Shepherd is a place where his friends and mine (and, of course, Pastor Pat) will greet him by name when he comes home for a visit. A sense of belonging makes all of us feel special, and loved, and close to God to whom we all belong.

Thank you to those of you who might recognize yourselves in this story for making my family feel welcome and a part of this loving community. 

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