Friday, June 28, 2013

The One about Love

"I like love."

The words spoken by a seminary professor were in response to hearing the engagement news for Stephen and I a few years ago.  We smiled because of course we were in love and we were infatuated with love as well.  And with each other.

"I like love."

Yes, I like love too and I hear those words when I'm with couples and families and children who are in the midst of life and love.  Stephen and I are at a mere 10 months of marriage (just over a month of actually being in the same place together) and we still very much "like love."

We took our time in planning the wedding and dreaming about what the day and our marriage would look like.  Full of love of course.  We dreamed big and then scaled down.  We reveled in the kind wishes of family and friends.  We smiled a lot.  We pictured ourselves as a couple growing old together.

In the midst of the planning and the long distance and the worries, I would remember words spoken to me by a colleague and friend when I was interning in Milwaukee.  As the vicar (fancy word for intern) I was invited to assist at the blessing of a marriage for Seth and Art.

Seth and Art - two people who just exude life and love and laughs.  Two people madly in love.  Two people committed to one another.  Seth who introduced himself to me very early on and invited me to join in the (non-existent) liturgical dance group at the church.  I knew right from the start I wanted to be a part of their day.  

It had just been about a month since I began serving and living among the people of Lake Park Lutheran and I was quite humbled and honored to be a part of their special day of love.  As we were gathering on the day of the wedding, Pr. David said to me,

"Now, Kim, when you are a pastor and presiding at a wedding and the bride and the bride's mother are stressed to the max and everything has to be perfect and the bride wants to make sure the day is the most perfect day, you remember Seth and Art.  You remember how much they had to work for their love.  You remember."  

And remember I do.  For just as much as I like love, I like love for all people.  All.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A Parsonage Prayer

The smell of fresh paint and vinegar-washed cabinets. 
The wood floor polished.
The carpets newly cleaned and devoid of any mark or blemish.
Possibility and creativity at every corner. 

A new home ready. 

This week my husband, Stephen, and I will officially move in to the parsonage owned by the church he will be serving.  It will be our first home together.  Our first parsonage living experience.  Our first venture into creating sacred space together. 

We are ready and anxious and excited.  We've dreamed of what we'll place on the walls, how we'll decorate, where our treasures will be stored, and where we'll collapse for Sabbath rest.  I can picture the hanging baskets and the green grass, neighborhood cookouts, and lazy days on the porch.  Yet, as I think to the future, our future, I also can't help but to listen to the voices and history of the past.  The previous pastors and their families.  The memories.  The stories.  The history. 

If only the walls could talk.

Stephen and I are just one family in a long line of pastors who have moved to this town and this particular house to serve a particular people of Cole Camp, Missouri. 

If only the walls could talk. 

I enter the house and feel the weight of responsibility.  The call to be faithful residents of this home.  The call to recognize the gift of living among a people and being called to love in community.  I see pictures placed on the walls.  I imagine the stains and tears and heartaches that occurred and have been woven into the very fabric of the house.  I hear the voices of joy and laughter.  I see the kitchen table and the meals shared.  I ache for the losses experienced and the long nights praying for the community.  I hear the whispers and hushed voices of sleepovers. 

If only the walls could talk. 

This home that we will make our own will also make us into a family.  This home will be our shelter and refuge.  This home has stories to share and secrets to hide.

As I walk through the halls and imagine our future, I hear the faint whisper of a prayer, a prayer from the parsonage itself, a prayer to make a home and to honor the space:

To the residents of S. Hickory Street, 

This is your house now.  This is your home.  

You have the keys and the freedom to decorate, design and plant.  You will make a home among these walls and in this community.  You will wake up each morning to the bells of the neighboring church and be reminded that you are not alone; there are others who are hear to walk this life of ministry with you.  You will look out your front window and see the park - the park where children come to play, the park where people without a home find some shelter, and the park where birthdays are celebrated.  You will see the neighborhood cats and wonder how on earth one small town can have so many cats.  Oh, the cats!  

This is your house now.  This is your home.  

Remember, you are only one family following a long line of others who have made their home here.  Others will come.  Be gentle with the place and with yourself.  Don't take anything too seriously - this house has been through a lot.  Just as you will know where the floors creak and the door won't shut properly, this home, too, knows years worth of creaks and cracks, joys and sorrows.  

This is your house now.  This is your home.  

You are blessed to be among these people.  Remember that you are not alone.  There are prayers and possibilities behind each cabinet and within each wall.  So too must you pray for those who have come before you and those who are to come.  So too must you pray for the people who come to your door.  

This is your house now.  This is your home.  

Know that it welcomes you and calls you to welcome others.