I don’t talk about my faith much outside of church and those that don’t know me in a sacred setting might find my faith surprising. As a fan of science and science fiction alike, I am known for rational thinking and evidence based conclusions. Religion often doesn’t provide much of a foundation with either category. So how do I reconcile faith and reason? I’m not sure I can answer that in one blog post but I’ll start with the faith community I was raised in.
Recently I have been working on a documentary style video for the celebration of the 50th anniversary of Gloria Dei Lutheran Church. The celebration was held on Sunday, December 10th and the video was a huge success. In just over fifteen minutes, I managed to squeeze in the history of the church as well as highlight some of the ministries most important to the Gloria Dei community.
I’ve been using the word community a lot lately as I’ve come to realize how important it is to have , especially a faith based one. I was baptized at Gloria Dei and the people there are more than just fellow Christians, they’re family. I’ve always known that should anything happen to my own family, I have a community at Gloria Dei who would be there to support me in every way possible. It wasn’t until I started working on this video that I realized how truly special and unique Gloria Dei is.
I had a great circle of friends in high school but I rarely see any of them as an adult. I had amazing relationships with the men and women I served with while in the Navy yet now I only see them on social media. I connected with the film community while studying at Shoreline Community College. It’s been several years since my last collaborative film project and I haven’t worked with any of those people since. All of these communities were a part of my everyday life for the years I was among them. While I suspect many from those groups would attend my funeral should the unthinkable happen next week, few are likely to show up at my door and hang out on a random Friday night.
Yet throughout my entire life, my community at Gloria Dei has always been there because my faith has always been with me. The strength and depth of my faith in God was nurtured in me by a community of believers in Alderwood Manor, Washington. While many have come and gone over the years (even I have gone away and come back a few times) the sense of family has remained.
So how do people without a church community connect in deep meaningful ways to people outside their family? What does community look like when it’s purely secular? For me, it’s transitory, limited, fun but lacking depth. Like I mentioned before, I had a sense of community in high school, in the navy, and at college but those communities were limited to specific places and times in my life. At graduation, at end of service, at the project’s completion, those communities faded away. There was nothing to link my connection to those people for the duration of my life. I have good relationships with many of those people but they don’t play an active part in my everyday life today. In fact reconnecting with some of them is sometimes awkward because our lives have gone in very different directions since our last meeting.
That’s not to say the people of Gloria Dei are perfect. Like every family, it struggles with difference of opinion, personality conflicts, and balancing tradition with innovation. But our faith connects us in a unique and special way. Each of us comes to the table with the desire to serve the Lord and serve each other in a positive way. When we run into trouble, our faith demands that we listen to each other and find where God wants us to go. Sometimes the struggles are too much for some and they walk away for a little while, sometimes for good. But always, that community is there, waiting should anyone feel called to return home.
I believe there is a place for everyone at Gloria Dei, sinners and saints alike. Whether you come from a Lutheran background, or no church background at all, the community, the family of Gloria Dei stands ready to welcome you should you brave the threshold of its doors.