I am always amazed when I realize how many of our characteristics and personality traits are learned behaviors that are passed down from generation to generation within our families. For instance, some people grow up in families where you don’t ask for help. If you can’t do it yourself, you just don’t do it. Asking for help is taught to be a sign of weakness, a sign that you aren’t trying hard, a sign that you haven’t learned enough. You don’t ask for help, even if it kills you - and too often that is what literally and figuratively happens. At the same time there are people who are raised in families that teach you don’t offer help unless you are asked. Even if you see a need, wait. If you know you have something you can offer, don’t offer it unless they ask you first. It might have started out as a ‘don’t assume they want your help’ sort of thing, but over the years it becomes a ’hide it under a bushel’ way of living. Imagine now a wedding where one spouse is from the first family and the other from the second. One has learned you never ask for help, the other has learned you never offer it. Not exactly a recipe for a happy, healthy marriage. Many of the struggles we have in relationships, many of the struggles we have in community life, in church life, come from the fact we were raised differently. Our personality, our way of doing things, our way of understanding the world around us has been shaped, for generations, by those who have gone before us.
There was a time in the history of Christ Lutheran when you could look out on any given Sunday and know for sure one thing: Everyone was Scandinavian. And this meant at the very least most, if not all, the people of CLC shared some of the same characteristics and personality traits with each other that have been passed on from generation to generation. They shared the same pietism. They shared a common understanding of how one should live one’s life, of what’s important and what’s not. They even shared a behavior pattern that one could call indirect, dare we even say passive aggressive. But in the end that didn’t matter much, because it was a trait they all shared.
This is no longer true. Actually, it hasn’t been this way for many (many) years. We’ve sort of been in denial - a Scandinavian thing maybe - and we just never took the time to acknowledge and celebrate this change. While we still have Johnsons, Erickson’s, Carlson’s, Josephson’s, and Nelson’s we have many more names that don’t have a “son” anywhere to be found. We have many more families who don’t share that same Scandinavian way of doing things. Our personality, our way of doing things, our way of understanding the church, the community, the world around us, which has been shaped for generations by those who have come before us, is changing. What are we to do?
If you haven’t heard, we are having a Lutefisk and Meatball Dinner in 2015. It will be on January 15. But it was truly a struggle to find people willing to lead it, and we are thrilled that some people did step up, and we know that it is going to be great. I know this is a generalization, but part of the struggle was the fact that Lutefisk just doesn’t mean much to most of the families within the congregation anymore. And from my perspective at least, it is hard to force Lutefisk on anyone. To the chagrin of some, eating lutefisk is not a prerequisite to becoming a member of Christ Lutheran. Our congregation now is filled with people who were raised in families and in churches that did things differently. It’s not as simple as saying right or wrong, but it’s different. And they are bringing their new understanding, their personality into our mix. It makes things exciting. It brings new energy. It means the DNA of our congregation is somewhat changing. And that type of change is not always easy, and it never happens quickly. We will have Lutefisk this coming year, and that is a good thing. It is an important tradition within our congregation. It is a way that we support mission projects locally and globally. It connects us with the generations that have gone before us.
Posted on Wed, November 5, 2014
by Joel Martin