I think of my grandmother at Christmas more than any other time of year. It was Grandma who taught me to love the music of the church before I ever knew that I would lead it weekly as a pastor. She imparted the history of classical music and its stories, which are so intimately tied with church history.
But it wasn’t just music that she taught me to love in the church. She and my grandfather were organizing members of several Lutheran mission starts in Alaska, including the one in which I grew up. Their leadership in mission set an early example for me of what lives committed to the good news of Jesus should look like. They showed me that faith joined to loving action could change people and whole communities.
Grandma’s faith had its most direct impact on me when I began seminary. At the time that I was moving to Chicago to answer God’s call to ordained ministry in the ELCA, my parents were discerning a move away from the church in which they had raised me, and our relationship grew strained.
When I needed encouragement the most, Grandma and Grandpa decided that they’d write one of their monthly benevolence checks to me to help with books or groceries or whatever I needed. More than the money, the accompanying letter, written in my grandmother’s curling script, was a clear message that I was supported and loved: that I was just where God meant me to be.
At my ordination, Grandma and Grandpa laid my first stole over my shoulders, dressing me for the role they’d help prepare me for.
Grandma died unexpectedly before I told her how deeply her life had affected mine and how much the pastor I am is owed to her nurturing and teaching. I trust that she knew how much I loved her and offer these words now in memoriam.
To borrow Paul’s words to Timothy (2 Timothy 1:5), I write this in tribute to the “sincere faith, which first lived in [my] grandmother [Betty] and in [my] mother [Kathy],” and I hope that others feel “now lives in [me].”
Collette Broady Grund is a newly-wedded ELCA pastor in Mankato, Minnesota who writes for Café, Women of the ELCA’s online magazine for and with young women. She shares a home with her charming husband, four children, and two dogs. Every day is an adventure, which she sometimes has time to blog about at www.thebroadybunch.wordpress.org.
This blog was used with permission and was edited from its longer original post on The Young Clergy Women Project blog. You can read the entire blog here. The photo is of a stole owned by Susan Flemr, an ordained Lutheran minister. A story about the stole was featured in the January/February 2012 issue of Gather magazine. Flemr’s parishioner made a stole for her fashioned out of her father’s and grandfather’s stoles.