On Sunday April 22nd my nephew Luke confirmed at the Freedom Lutheran church in rural Janesville MN. My sister (his mother) and I were confirmed there, as was our father and our grandfather and many other members of my dad’s family. While I’ve long since moved away, Freedom will always hold a special, if sometimes conflicted, place in my heart.
Freedom is a small congregation. I think I was related to 2/3 of the folks attending this morning. Granted, many of them were there because of Luke, but quite a few of them are regular members, and I would guess that on a typical Sunday I might be related to a solid 1/4 to 1/3 of the attendees. There are a lot of family memories inside this church, including baptisms and confirmations and weddings and funerals. The adjacent cemetery is the final resting place of a long list of family who were a big part of those memories.
For a time as an adult I lived very close to Freedom yet much to the chagrin of my dad (among others) I chose to attend services elsewhere. I had a lot of reasons for that decision, too complicated to get into here. I don’t regret choosing the church I did as it was a wonderful place for me during some of the darkest times in my life in a way that frankly, a church all my relatives attended simply could not have been. But every Christmas Eve I was at Freedom watching my cousins in the children’s service.
When my husband Pat and I got married I moved to Iowa. There were a lot of reasons why I was the one to move, including uncertainly with my employer at the time and he owning this home while I was renting. I originally joined a local Lutheran church. A couple of years ago I made the decision to leave the Lutheran church and join the Methodist church. Again, I had a lot of complicated reasons for doing that, but again I am very happy with my choices and I know I’m doing what’s best for me and my faith journey. But still, every Christmas Eve I’m at Freedom. My niece is 6 and this Christmas Eve she will likely be the only family member in the children’s service. Will I still go after she’s confirmed and I no longer have close family participating? I can’t say for sure, but a big part of me says yes.