By Michelle Justavino


I am Lutheran. It has been a year, yet it still seems strange to write those words. I had been part of a non-denominational church for 30 years. I grew up in a church where you sing loudly, raise your hands, maybe even jump up and down a bit – yes, I admit it, I am a charismatic.

But my son said something which sparked the change. “Mommy, what’s communion?” My first reaction was, “What?!??!! How can you even ask that, we go to church every —“.

That’s when it hit me. We do go to church regularly, but he was dropped off at Sunday School, where he spent the whole of the service. It was not until junior high that the children came inside the sanctuary.

So I pulled him out of the children’s program and had him attend church with the adults. Week after week, he was the only kid in the adult service. He hated it, and I felt bad that he felt so different from the other kids.

My son knows that we live differently than many of the families at school. We go to church, read the Bible, expect him to behave, we don’t just let him watch what he wants on TV, and he is the only kid at school (or so he says) that does not have a DS. I wanted him to have one place, one space, where he could feel normal. I had hoped church would be that place. But instead he was the weird kid, with the weird mom that didn’t let him go to Sunday School. I decided that we needed to find another way.

We started by trying St. Luke’s. That first week, it was just me and my son. I will be honest; at first I was not a fan of the worship style. Inside I said, “This will be the only time we come here.” But then something happened; the kids were dismissed during the sermon for an age-appropriate sermon. I perked up, as I liked that. The sermon was also good. I really liked how the kids went up with the parents at communion time.

While I was praying after communion, I heard God say to me, “it’s not about you.” Huh?!   As I thought more on it, I realized that He was right (as He always is). I have been a Christian for a long time; I know how to get fed spiritually. I pray on a regular basis, read my Bible, and have a good spiritual support system. Over the years, I have also learned to hear God and worship Him in a variety of different settings. But my kids – they aren’t there yet. Yes, they love Jesus, but they are still learning about God, and how to hear His voice. My greatest heart’s desire is that when they grow up that they will decide for themselves “Jesus Christ with my whole life, for the rest of my life.” And I knew that they needed something more than what they were getting.

I came to St. Luke’s looking for a new church, but instead I found something more, something that I never realized I needed until I experienced it.

Over the next few weeks, we came back to St. Luke’s, and each time I liked the church more and more. But it was most evident to me on Reformation Sunday when I saw the First Communions. As I looked over at the first communion line, I saw each family going up, taking communion together. At the end of the line, I saw a woman standing alone with her son, no big family, but there they stood strong. Just then I saw a second woman jump up, run over, and whisper something to the mother. The second woman then motioned for her husband to come over. They joined with the mother and her son, so they would not have to go up alone.

I thought, “It takes a village to push back the darkness.” Then I found my spirit almost groaning from the inside. I realized then that I needed St. Luke’s so I can be a better mother. I needed other people to help me push back the darkness. The world is so dark, and the battle for the hearts and minds of our children is so strong.

I came to St. Luke’s looking for a new church, but instead I found something more, something that I never realized I needed until I experienced it.

But yet, I still almost went into a full blown panic attack when I thought about becoming Lutheran. I could not understand why, because I knew this is where we were supposed to be. I could not pinpoint the issue.

A friend of mine nailed it, “You’re getting a label.”

Instantly I knew she was right. That is what I feared, getting a label.   I had always been to a non-denominational church, and I liked not having a label. I decided that if that was the only thing holding me back, then I needed to press forward.

I now have my label: I am Lutheran. It may still feel odd to say, but I know that St. Luke’s is exactly where God wants our family to be.