by Rev. Lisa Ahlness, Assistant to the Bishop 7/31/2015
High summer. Nature on the prairie is at its glorious finest. And, it’s a time of reunion.
At Bible camps, friends from years prior reunite for another fun week to learn and grow with God and nature and crazy counselors with adventures galore.
My Facebook feed showed me how the ELCA Youth Gathering in Detroit reunited friends from across the country. New friendships developed, too, which can nowadays be nurtured not just through letters between penpals til a face to face reunion someday…. but through all those magical electronic social ways of instant connection.
Still, face to face reunions are fantastic. Family reunions gather far-flung folks for a brief time together, sometimes with different colored t-shirts for various branches of the family to help keep them sorted for easier recognition and “filing” of all the generations of aunts, uncles and cousins one hasn’t seen in a while. And despite being from all over, with perhaps wildly varied lives, there are connections: blood and history and love and lore, and sometimes even those famous recipes that stir memories of delight.
I recently returned from an all-school reunion in my hometown, not such a large place in southwestern North Dakota. It was a fantastic, well-planned weekend full of events: a golf scramble, ribfest, prom, classic car show, inflatables for the kids, street dancing and meets and greets and more. Some individual graduating classes met, and some decades of classes. The town doubled in size and fun was had by many. Pictures flooded the internet.
For me, the very best part of it all was the “reunion” itself with my classmates, including some who moved away or left before we graduated. Somehow the trepidations that can inhibit participation fell away. It didn’t really matter if one had worried how one looked – everyone else is older, too! The old walls that had separated us into cliques had disappeared over the last 35 years, and reminiscing and laughter replaced them. “Remember when we….” was an opening line heard frequently, as were squeals followed by hugs and greetings as long lost classmates spied one another again. Time and distance had separated us for long periods of time, and yet there was much we still had in common. And we were home.
Reunion is a word, amid all its connotations, that reminds me of worship. Some people come with trepidation. How do I look? How will I be received? Will we sing music I know? When we’re worshiping at our home church, there is joy in seeing old friends, and coming together as “family.” We miss those who aren’t there. Whether we are old-timers or newcomers, we are fed and nourished by the sacrament and by the community; by the Word of God and (hopefully) friendly words of others; by God’s love.
High summer. The glory of God’s creation. And reunion. So much for which to be grateful. See you in worship!