As I picked my donut off the tray and slid a cup of coffee into my hand, I felt nervous about how I was going to meet people.  It was my first day at Bethlehem Lutheran Church and I had stayed for the fellowship time just so I could meet people. I had decided to actually join a church and Bethlehem was it.  It hadn’t been too long before that I had first stepped into a church after a 5 year hiatus.  And now I was actually joining this thriving Christian community in south Minneapolis. But everybody was busy greeting their friends and I was anxious about breaking the ice. Then up sidled Rudy. Rudy seemed like he didn’t belong in a church. He was obviously rough around the edges –he broke the ice with an off-color joke, one of many I was to hear in the weeks to come.  “Hey, come on over guys! Meet the new guy!”  “Sledge hammer” would describe Rudy’s welcoming style. The church is anything but perfect, but people like Rudy keep it honest.  Unfortunately, I don’t have Rudy’s natural humility. I kept my distance for a long time -5 years.  I tried atheism, agnosticism, Eastern religion, even yoga.  All good, but all lacking.  None touched on the personal God of Christianity.  That God could love me as a person as if God were a person himself or herself was the most astounding thing to me. But, that only opened my heart to the recognition that God loves everybody like that.  And so I stepped back into church. Previously, I had regarded what they did in church as cartoonish and the people as hypocrits. But, seeing the Church as the place where people who love God gather, no matter how cartoonish or imperfect it may be, changed that and I matured spiritually that day.


About olafpastordale

Pastor at St. Olaf Lutheran Church, North Minneapolis

Posted on June 19, 2012, in St. Olaf Blog. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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