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Today I’m crossing the Blue Water Bridge for the last time as a visitor to Canada. I’ve made this trip probably fifty to sixty times over the twelve years that I’ve resided in the U.S., heading home for summer breaks or holidays, or just short weekend visits to see my family. But the next time I head east over the St. Clair River, I’ll do so with cats and furniture in tow, to take up a pastor position in Kitchener, Ontario.

To say I’m excited would be an understatement. But coupled with that excitement is an intense sadness. I love my church and my friends and this little beautiful community of Grand Haven. And after spending twelve years living as a resident alien in the United States, as much as there are things in this country that still feel foreign to me, it has also been home, has been the landscape for twelve years of memories and laughter and love, and so a piece of my heart is here. Plus, the U.S. has Target. I’m seriously sad about leaving Target.

The idea that Christians live as resident aliens in a foreign land is a compelling one. We are citizens of the Kingdom of God, a kingdom which is not yet. There is much in this world that is not of the Kingdom, that is ugly and cruel and dark and destructive. It would be tempting to want to hide, to wait, to disengage with this world and all that feels wrong and foreign to us, while we long for our true home.

And yet the Kingdom is also already, and there is much in this world that bears witness to the Kingdom, that is good and lovely and beautiful and true. This place is home, is where we laugh and love and find God in the most surprising and unexpected and delightful ways.

I think one of the things we’re trying to do here at Reformed Journal and “The Twelve” is figure out what it means to live as resident aliens. What does it mean to engage with this world, in all its beauty and its ugliness? How do we press deep into what appears to be reality, and uncover the even deeper truths about what God is up to in the midst of it all?

That feels a lofty goal, and certainly we don’t do it well all the time. But at our best moments, it’s what’s happening when we critique political behavior or platforms, when we revel in the beauty of creation, when we tell stories of ordinary people who left extraordinary impressions on our lives.

To do this in a meaningful way, as a community not just of writers but of readers and commenters and idea-givers, takes time and talent and technology, which requires financial support. You’ve been asked all week, and I’ll ask again. If you find this a meaningful way to ask big questions about how to live in the world, would you consider making a monthly financial contribution so this work can go on?

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Laura de Jong

Laura de Jong is the Pastor of Preaching and Worship at Community Christian Reformed Church in Kitchener, Ontario

2 Comments

  • Jan Zuidema says:

    I have thought about you numerous times today, doing exactly what you are doing and about what emotions it was causing to swirl through your mind and heart. It is as I suspected it would be. It also brought the thought that, in too short a time, you will be submitting these beautiful musings from another place, with others supporting and loving you. Meanwhile, the Kingdom goes on, with all of us doing what you have suggested – supporting and being challenged daily by the prophetic voices of The Twelve and trying to figure out how to live out our calling as resident aliens.

  • Daniel Meeter says:

    Och, I was wondering when it was going to come. When I saw the title, and the picture of the bridge, which I’ve so often crossed, I figured at once you were going back (coming back). My best friend lives in Kitchener. Compared to Grand Haven you might feel a little benauwd there, and it can be very much the isolated cosmos of Ontario (in my experience as smugly and blindly self-contained in its own way as NFLD or PQ), but at the same time you’re going to be back home, as much as a pastor can ever be at home. Do you prefer Target to Canadian Tire? There will be grocery stores with Dutch shelves. I hope you will continue to write for us from your new venue, and maybe next time I’m visiting Orville in K-W I will take you out for lunch.

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