Linda and I have a mixed marriage.
She was raised Catholic and I, of course, grew up in the one true faith..Lutheranism.
Alright, don’t get your choir robes all in a bunch..I’m just kidding.
I appreciate the traditions of all denominations but some of them can get pretty tight which, among other things, has kept the two of us from attending any church on a regular basis since we got married 23 years ago.
I know Linda still loves the Catholic Church but hasn’t felt quite as welcome since she chose not to have an annulment following her divorce.
I’m still a card-carrying Lutheran and Linda has been fine with our attending a Lutheran church.
And why not?
Lutherans now have about the same liturgical responses as Catholics, “and also with you…Lord in your mercy” etc.
Heck, the confession of faith even says “I believe in the Holy Catholic church” which must make ol’ Martin Luther dizzy from spinning in his grave each time we say it.
I think the deal maker for Linda, though, has been the decision by most Lutheran churches to not only allow but actually welcome and encourage all believers to share in communion..not just those who’ve been confirmed.
So, we’ve been talking about finding a church home for a long time but promised to intensify the search after Mother Mary’s miraculous recovery from a seizure last summer.
It was during Mary’s hospital stay that I ran into Reverend Marlin Haugrud, longtime pastor at Canton Lutheran Church. Rev.Marlin Haugrud
Linda and I had visited Canton a few times to hear him preach because we remembered the sermons he gave during the funerals of two family members when he was pastor at Sinai Lutheran many years earlier.
One was for my cousin, Shirley, who had Down syndrome but lived a pretty fulfilling and long life in spite of her limitations.
Through regular visits, Reverend Haugrud had gotten to know Shirley and as he shared his impressions of her during the funeral, there was no mention of the stuttering that made her difficult to understand. He also didn’t point any fingers at those of us who shamefully avoided spending much time with her.
Instead, Pastor Haugrud gently talked about what a precious, loving soul she was and the value of her life in the eyes of God and her family.
It takes someone special to turn a church full of stoic Lutherans into mush but there wasn’t a dry eye in the congregation as he spoke that day..or at the funeral of Shirley’s dad..my uncle, Abe.
Linda and I both said it’s too bad he doesn’t have a church in Sioux Falls..we’d go.
Then, last fall, Pastor Haugrud announced that he was leaving Canton after 13 years to become pastor at Springdale Lutheran..a little country church southeast of Sioux Falls.
So we’ve been making regular appearances there and have found that it’s not like a big congregation where you can just slip in and out unnoticed. The Springdale folks will jump over pews to offer welcome and insist you stay for coffee and a visit after the service.
We’re slowly learning that certain areas of the sanctuary were staked out by families a century ago and it’s where their descendants still feel most comfortable sitting.
It’s all good, though, especially when Pastor Marlin steps into the pulpit.
He still has the gift of making everyone feel special, important and worth saving a spot for in the hereafter.
Now if someone would just help us find the right spot to sit on Sunday mornings it would be heavenly.
Linda and I have a mixed marriage.