Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Reflections on Home

by Jenny

It’s interesting that Mattias wrote about “home,” because I’ve been pondering that as well. I think the concept of “home” is bigger than a physical place, having more to do with where one feels welcome and can be him/herself.

On Sunday I preached at small Spanish-speaking congregation that began about 2 years ago as a ministry of Calvary Baptist church in Roseville. It was my first time back in a Spanish-speaking church since I left the one I had been a part of for 5 years in September. It was an odd clash of feelings to go back to the type of setting that I have had most of my ministry experience in, yet at the same time to be aware that I am in another culture, preaching in a second language. Nonetheless, going back to a Hispanic church to preach felt more comfortable than going to preach at the Lutheran church I grew up in, simply because the former is what I have gotten used to, and where I’ve largely developed my own ministerial identity.

To make the experience more interesting, apparently the young man that was left in charge of the service in the pastor’s absence had no idea who was coming to speak, and announced that they had a special guest speaker there from Mexico. I waited a moment to see if anyone got up, thinking there might have been a change of plans, but when no one moved I waved my hand and proceeded to introduce myself. I was in fact the guest speaker, not from Mexico but from the neighboring suburbs, not visiting a different country yet invited into a different culture.

Or is it? How far do clear cultural distinctions hold up when everyone there operates in several different cultures at once? Yes, there are members who came from Latin America, but now Minnesota is their home, and their kids are growing up here. In fact, the kids from the Hispanic church go to the English-speaking Sunday School with the kids of the host church, which has their service at the same time. And as I looked at the small crowd of about 9 people gathered for the sermon, I realized that about half of them were non-Hispanic young women from the host church who are bilingual and come to support this new church start. So who is truly at “home” here, and which is the host culture?

I think something very interesting is happening in the church in our country—people of various cultural backgrounds are coming together around a common purpose and forming something new, which reflects aspects of all the cultures involved. This is beautiful, yet challenging at times. It takes good communication, patience, and mutual understanding to create an environment is which everyone feels they can be themselves and call the new church body “home.”


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