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By Helen Luhrs
When my mom died this winter, I realized the generation of my parents was gone. What I learned from them about faith and life was now mine to practice and pass on. To help me remember what I learned and treasure what nuggets of truth I want to share, these Summer Sundays are dedicated to Henry and Edith Blankespoor, my parents.
“And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.” Matthew 22:37
One of my first lessons in evangelism happened on the sidewalk outside of the Inwood Christian Reformed Church. A rite of passage when I was young was reaching that magic age when one was old enough to leave the visiting moms after church and go chat with friends. Most of the girls my age at church also went to the local Christian school. Eagerly, each Sunday I left Mom’s side and found my friends and we compared purses and patent leather shoes.
When I was about eight, a family who did not send their children to the Christian school started attending our church. They had a daughter my age, but I didn’t really know her. My dad, however, told me that I needed to include Christine in my little group of friends. That sounded like hard work and I wasn’t so sure my “school friends” actually liked me enough to appreciate my including a stranger.
The Sunday after Dad’s talk I made a point of exercising some tunnel vision—straight to my friends. I pretended that I didn’t even see Christine there on my right or my dad over on my left. After church, Dad came upstairs and found me. He had observed my tunnel vision. Strong words shadowed by his disappointment sent a message loud and clear. The next Sunday Mom and Dad invited the whole family over for coffee.
Over the years I have been that new person who did not fit in. I don’t want to forget that feeling when I get comfortable in my church and a new person walks in the door.
Dear God, help me remember that we are all your children. Remind us that we are all strangers somewhere. Reduce my tunnel vision and broaden my view to include those on the left and those on the right. Give me a spirit of inclusion in your church and on the street. Amen
An Iowa woman to the core, Helen is a high school teacher who lives out in the country near Knoxville, Iowa. Helen and Lee have four married daughters, five grandchildren, a graceful prairie, and a square foot garden.