This weekend was a packed weekend. I could list all the events in chronological order – but – I’ll share what I saw, perhaps to prompt you to pause and see amazing things happening around you in very ordinary circumstances.
The church I belong to and serve in, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, has location-specific groups of churches called synods. I’m in the St. Paul Area Synod. There’s 2 (and a half) in Washington state. Nebraska has one synod. Minnesota has six (I can’t imagine why P.S. Minnesota is saturated with Lutherans).
These synods gather for synod assemblies (like a conference) yearly, and each church sends a handful of their people to the 2-day assembly, be them staff, non-staff, pastors, people who want to contribute, etc. You can see how we’re spoiled in the St. Paul Area Synod, in that most people only drive less than an hour, where people in Montana or Washington probably drive hours to get to their synod assemblies (I did this in SW WA synod once with a senior pastor and this fun lady from council – road trip!).
So here we go:
I saw gratitude as Peter Rogness‘ two 6-year terms ended, and Patricia Lull’s term-start was marked as she was voted in. Peter Rogness has been a great bishop. A very kind man with a staff of 9 to help him serve out of the office of bishop for the last 12 years. You can’t serve more than two terms, so this assembly was full of a lot of public goodbye’s and thank you’s. Kleenex should have sponsored the event. It was very sweet to see Rogness thank his assistant, Beth. Crying old men always get me. Tears were shed and hugs were given all weekend among all of us – not in sadness, but gratitude for a wonderful chapter of leadership and service.
I saw & felt belonging as I people greeted me. Being from Washington state and now working in Minnesota post-school, it’s been a struggle to feel like I have my feet firmly on the ground in Minnesota. I’m thankful for this culture, rich with church-related opportunities, but sometimes I still feel without a compass. The people at Trinity have been welcoming, and the churches I pilot Discourse with have been just phenomenal. I ran into some of these pilot congregation’s leaders this weekend – some with dads/moms, aunts/uncles, grandpa’s as congregational leaders in Minnesota for years and years. It goes deep here. I really felt like I “arrived” when I took a selfie with one of the pastors who is running Discourse in her Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in St. Paul on Snelling Ave. Different from last year’s synod assembly, I felt just a tiny bit more like one of the cool kids. I know that shouldn’t matter, but it does.
Lastly, I saw flight as I watched my friends graduate from Luther Seminary yesterday. I did my usual pre-event bathroom run 15 minutes before the graduation started, and I got a surprise when I walked back to my seat. Lined up outside along the sidewalk were all the graduates, robed up and ready to march in. First I saw Rebecca, our God-son’s mom. I waved and started to walk back in when I heard this small squeal “ALLISON!” and it was my friend Amanda next to her husband Jeremy next to her waaaaay down sidewalk. I yelled back I’d hug them later (which I did), and I waved and walked back to my spot.
When my Grandpa Jack died in 1997, we visited him during his last days in Hawaii where him and my Step-Grandma Suzette lived. Suzette still lives there and visits Grandpa at the punchbowl every Sunday (or so). I was ten when he died that week, and I think we stayed for his 21-gun salute but quickly left because Maria and I had school. My memory is a little foggy here, but my gut is clear: my mom watched the ground and palm trees shrink away as our plane took-off and we all cried as we saw, in essence, our grandpa, a little piece of us, and a little piece of home shrink away.
I was flushed with this memory as I walked back to my spot before the ceremony began. Not in a sad way – but in a “it’s time to take-off,” way, in how he’s not with us any more, but Grandpa’s still in my heart. I’m so proud of my friends who have grown so much and learned so much. They have been stellar companions to Timothy and I and others in this odd place that is Luther Seminary. I’m so excited for them as they become leaders and pastors for the sake of the world (literally, they are going all over the world, I am so jealous), freed in Christ to serve their neighbors. It’s time for take-off. It’s time to take flight.
As my friend Carrie emailed me once, all the feeeeeeeels. Where have you seen gratitude, belonging, and/or flight this weekend?