Sunday, November 23, 2008
There are only a certain number of days in your life that you will never forget. Some of those days are for the best possible reasons and some are for the worst. I am not going to dwell on the circumstances of this past weekend as most of you who are reading this blog know them all too well. I want to reflect on some of the good that I saw admist the evilness.
Sunday Morning my family and I arrived at Church right at 11am. It was the first time for my kids to be back in Willmar and they were super excited. One of Alise's good friends was standing on the steps and Alise ran right to her. Luke bolted out of the car and just sprinted into familiar territory. I was afraid that he might be sprinting right down the center aisle of Church but figured it would make for some good memories.
It was strange to be there and to not be on staff. We sat in the very back and looked at things in a much different light then ever before as we were now "visitors" so to speak. What my family and I witnessed that morning was a beautiful thing. Pastor Dan appropiately had changed the plan for the services as he dealt with the sudden tragedies and grief head on. What I saw was a Church living out Romans 12:15 when Paul tells us to mourn with those who mourn. It was evident on Sunday that the Church's heart was aching with those of its body who were hurting, it was a beautiful thing to see.
It wasn't just Sunday morning either. The whole week I saw the true love that the people of FCC held for each other. My family and I were welcomed back warmly by the pastoral staff new and old. I enjoyed working together with Rocky as he takes the baton and continues the race as he nows leads the youth ministry of FCC. My family is so blessed to have so many great friends and that was very evident this weekend. It was wonderful to see everyone and we were so humbled and grateful for the welcoming back that we received. Cliche as it sounds it blew us away.
All in all there was just a lot of love in the air in Willmar this last week. It is beautiful to see people allowing God to transform their lives. People who give control of their lives to God to be used as ministers of his grace and this is what we witnessed. It was harder than ever to leave, knowing that the people you love and care for are dealing with so much grief. I can relate to many of our college students who struggle to deal with tragedies such as these as they live in a place where no one really can understand. However I am comforted knowing that our friends back home who are dealing with so much pain are surrounded by so much love. Thank you for showing us what a true community of Christ followers looks like. May we all continue to love and pray for those around us who are hurting.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
I am continually amazed by the number of immigrants that I meet here in Chicago. The night before the election I was walking to my house, and I passed three adult guys who were definitiely not Swedish. My best guess is that they were from the middle east or southern Europe. As I past them, I was surprised to hear them conversing with each other in heavily accented English. I only heard one sentence as I passed by, but I felt it was an interesting one. The older man said, "This is the only country where you can say what you think."
In my short time in Chicago I am getting a better glimpse of the uniqueness of our country. From talking to a few immigrants and using my own imagination, I am getting a clearer picture of how hard it must be to leave everything that is so familiar and attempt to take up residence in a distance land. These brothers and sisters must only do this out of pure necessity for I have to consider what it would take for me to leave the USA and my extended family to live in Bulgaria (to pick a random country). The USA is still the land of opportunity and freedom which is simply not found in so many other countries in our world today.
This was proved true again last night. No matter the politics, I am proud that our country has been able to move from slavery to having an African-American as President. Yes, some might say that it took a long time (and we still have work to do in areas of race relations), but if you take into consideration human depravity, history in the end might look back on this day as happening quite quickly. Regardless, I am happy that this barrier has been broken and am excited to see what positive effects this might have on the African American community. May God Bless America!