Dear Mom and Dad,
I know you said that you were okay with me leaving the “strawberry patch” for another denomination — and I know you still love me anyway — but today I wanted to take the time to say “thank you” for raising me in the Lutheran church.
As I started to “wake up” in college and pay attention to my beliefs and my surroundings, some of the first things I noticed about the LCMS were the hard things that I couldn’t quite swallow and needed to wrestle with, like closed communion and women in the church. (I still wrestle with those things, by the way.) But now that I’ve gotten a little older and have the benefit of a little more hindsight, I’ve started to realize some of the less hard, more awesome things that have been planted in me through you.
For example, in looking back at the LCMS I’ve realized the huge emphasis that it places on education and knowledge, which has definitely been passed on to me. The impulse to study and dig into something before I make a conclusion might just be a personality thing… but I think it’s more likely that this was cultivated in me by you and by a church that values knowledge of scripture to the point of memorization. (I still remember parts of the catechism — this is most certainly true!)
I also appreciate that from a young age I was taught the importance of knowing my church doctrine — that doctrine matters, and is something to be pondered and not treated lightly. Some of this came in the form of jibes about some “Christianity lite” churches we visited… but in the end, I think I got the point, which is to make sure that my faith isn’t just about “Ten Steps to a Better Life” but is always rooted and based in the nitty-gritty of Jesus’ death and resurrection. And, even in the midst of the gentle teasing of other denominations, I still learned the importance of respecting the folks across the theological aisle, so to speak. I remember attending different sorts of services with you several times, whether due to vacations or volleyball tournaments, and I always felt like it was an important part of my education to understand how our faith and traditions fit into a larger picture of Christendom.
Speaking of traditions, I’m also really glad that I grew up in a church that has a strong sense of church tradition. I think I really came to appreciate and understand the layers of meaning behind the traditions, especially since as a pastor’s family we were so immersed in them from year to year. Now, I also appreciate the value of more spontaneous worship, but I will always have a special spot in my heart for the color-coded observance of the church year and the liturgy that I still have memorized.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that even though I’ve “left the fold”, I still respect and appreciate my roots. And I’m thankful to both of you for working so hard to plant and raise me in the “strawberry patch”.
Happy Mother’s Day (and Father’s Day too)!