St. Luke Lutheran Church, Charlotte, N.C.
Senior religious studies major and history minor at Lenoir-Rhyne University, Hickory, N.C.

I chose to attend an ELCA university because I dangled my feet into a secular environment, hoping to strengthen my faith, and while it did, something remained amiss. I came to Lenoir-Rhyne because I wanted to further my Lutheran heritage, and [the school] soon became home. Initially, I was hesitant about attending an ELCA university because I wanted to attend seminary, but I came to enjoy the experience the university brought. I understood more about my Lutheran heritage and I became more intertwined with the ELCA.

To me, church is a place where everyone comes with a story, whether it’s your first time in a church or you’ve been there for a while. Church is where the small stories we each bring are united into the Christian story that began with Christ’s resurrection. Church is also where we come bearing questions, but these questions are wrestled by the congregation.

I find grace in knowing when to breathe. I wear too many hats and am usually the point person on different topics. Sometimes the stress gets to my head, and I forget to breathe. I find grace in knowing that when I breathe, the stress diminishes.

My religious studies major allows me to expand beyond the confines of my Lutheran identity and engage with different aspects of the Christian faith. It allows me to examine Bible stories through a different lens. The major forces me to wrestle with commonly held conceptions I have about Scripture, but it ultimately strengthens my faith and understanding.

As I discern a call to word and sacrament ministry, I’m reminded of what God has done for us through his Son. Through water, wine and wheat, we’re united with Christ, and Christ gave us living, tangible reminders that he is with us. He also calls us to be light for the world and that, through our interactions, we may bear his reflection.

My favorite Bible story is Elijah on the mountain following the massacre of the Baal priests. In this story, Elijah flees for his life and God commands him to wait on the mountain. Various natural disasters happen, but God is not there. God is found in the silence or whisper. When Christians train themselves to silence, they will hear the voice of God.

Most people think that young adults can easily be swayed back into the church with marketing and gimmicks. In order to entice young adults back into the church, they should be swayed by compassion and purpose, not a commodified gospel that can easily be sold. The church should remain true to the teachings of Jesus and the commission that he gave us.

An issue I’m passionate about is the role religion plays in the political sphere. The church shouldn’t be an extension of the government, and the government shouldn’t encroach upon the rights of the church. However, both spheres should interact with each other while respecting the boundaries of the other.

I believe that God’s kingdom is alive and at work on Earth. It’s through the work of the church by the power of the Spirit that God’s kingdom manifests itself on earth. Whenever the second and third petitions are recited—“Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”—they aren’t merely words; it’s action. We can’t achieve anything on our own, but God through the Spirit realizes this kingdom.

After college the road is unknown. My vocational discernment has led into different sectors, namely public policy and religion. Seminary continues to fit within the discernment plan, with an emphasis on advocacy. Before seminary, I anticipate taking a gap year through different avenues: John Jay Institute, Sojourners and the ELCA.

I’m a Lutheran because I accept God’s unconditional love and that there is nothing we can do to achieve salvation. This has been done for us through the power of the cross. I’m a Lutheran not solely by birth but by choice. At confirmation I made a promise to uphold my baptismal promises and to also fear and love God simultaneously.

One thing I wish more people understood about young adults in the church is that we have a voice. One of the things I have encountered at one of the congregations I attended is that young adults, specifically those in college, have little say. Even though college students aren’t there, they still have a voice.

I share my faith by engaging in intellectual, theological discussions, mainly among religiously unaffiliated or charismatic individuals. My rearing has been in the Lutheran church, and I hold to the core Lutheran ideals, but I mainly share my faith through simple discussion. I avoid dogmatism in all circumstances, and I convince with my heart.

My favorite church memory would be giving part of a senior sermon in 2016. The text of the day was John 16:12-15, and this past year I was reminded of that sermon. I hosted a Bible study alongside my roommate from D.C., and it was the next-to-last study, so I read this passage. During that time, I was reminded that while we may not know what lies ahead, we have the confidence that the Spirit is alongside us for the ride.

 

Sentence prompts are provided to each person featured. If you’d like to nominate someone for “I’m a Lutheran,” email megan.brandsrud@elca.org.

Megan Brandsrud
Brandsrud is a content editor of Living Lutheran.

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