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What it means to be family

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Think back to your last family reunion, if you can. The one with those cousins whose names you can’t quite remember. The one where you swear you’ve never seen some of these people before in your life. But whether near or far, known or unknown, these people (for better or for worse) are your family. And, you love them. 

This idea of family came up more than a few times over the course of our last Local Mission Partner Weekend held on Jan. 17-18, 2015. 

In case you missed it, the weekend included a Saturday forum where all of our partners (see list at right) checked in with what is going well and what could be going better. Then on Sunday we celebrated with special guest preacher Bishop Patricia Lull and a youth band from Good Samaritan Lutheran Church, a Hmong congregation that worships on the East side of Saint Paul. 

It was a beautiful weekend filled with incredible stories; it’s been hard to choose just one to tell. I could write a novel about Richman Seju’s art highlighting the strength of African women. I could talk for hours about Bishop Lull’s sermon on vocation and on God calling us out into the world. I could gush on end about Joe Davis’ powerful spoken word on love and God being active within each of us. 

But alas, I only have this page. These 300+ words. And they should tell the story of family. Of our family, here at CtK. 

As we sat and listened to each person’s ministry update at Saturday’s forum, people consistently pointed out the warmth and welcome they’ve received here at Christ the King. In most cases, they have felt welcomed into this family with open arms and warm hearts. CtK member Protus Matagaro said that, “I feel welcome. It feels homey (at CtK).” 

But, like any family, we are not perfect. There are people at the reunion we still don’t know. And when we don’t know them, we cannot learn from them or they from us. 

So, what can we do? For a start we can take new member Orlando Nieves’s advice: “When I meet a new face, it is like a new opportunity.” The next time we see a new face on a Sunday morning or Wednesday night, we can treat that moment like a new opportunity. An opportunity to extend a word of kindness, invite others to sit at the table, to expand our family. 

Because even though, “we may speak and understand different languages, we are moved by the same Spirit,” as someone said in one of their updates.

If you are interested in getting more involved with expanding our family and outreach to any of our local partners, please contact Local Mission Partner chair, Vern Rice at vernrice2000@yahoo.com.

Originally published in the March 2015 Herald (PDF). More about Local Mission Partners.

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