I grew up on Lutheran hotdishes and liturgically coordinated Jello.
I grew up on Christmas pageants and Christmas eve candlelight services.
I grew up on Sunday School, and Confirmation and Luther League.
And then, I decided to go to seminary.
At seminary, my view of how I saw Lutheran was reshaped. During my seminary days, there were several international students from Namibia, Ghana, Rwanda and so many other places. Of course, growing up in ND, I didn't have a ton of friends or acquaintances who were from another state; let alone another country. But when I went to seminary and moved away from ND, these dear seminary friends taught me so much about God's grace and about justice.
I remember sitting and breaking bread with Esther and her children. I loved trying the food from her country and learning her families stories. I also remember sitting around our lunch table and John sharing about being in Rwanda during the genocide. Tears streamed down my face as I listened to John speak. I wanted to protect him from all harm and keep him safe. As I sat and listened to these dear new friends, my heart was opened once again to the power of letting love win.
Then in 2009, our church voted to allow LGTBQ individuals to be ordained in this church (the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America). In my humble opinion, it was long overdue. I recall sitting on our porch, tears streaming down my sister's face as she asked "Why won't people accept him for who he is?" My sister was talking about her dear friend who is gay. There are still many who have a hard time accepting this reality.
The truth is that I love this church (the ELCA), but I also know that we can do better. While at the ELCA Churchwide Assembly, I met some incredible leaders in this church; Jason, Tuhina, Priscilla and Megan to name a few. Each of them has helped open my eyes to how we need to be better about making this church more diverse and welcoming to all God's people. And it is because of their call for us to wake up that I think their #decolonizelutheranism movement is important in this day and age. (To learn more about this movement, check out their website here!)
It is important because not all of us grew up on Lutheran hot dish or attended Luther League. As Lutherans, we are simultaneously saint and sinners in need of God's grace. So it is important for us to acknowledge where we have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. It is important because this world is diverse and needs to be celebrated in this world.
My friends, like I stated earlier, I love being a Lutheran. But I also believe and know that we can do better!