By Dhananjaya Premawardena
Having a faith tradition in a family can be a wonderful asset to maintaining a better faith walk. A lot of people at my former church had come from large families where maybe three, four, or more generations had all been Lutherans and attended the same church. They all knew the same hymns and talked about going to Sunday school together. Those were the experiences that united them.
As someone who comes from a religiously eclectic family, I have never truly had the luxury of having faith traditions. My mother and I are the sole Protestants in our entire family of Buddhists and Hindus.
As someone who comes from a religiously eclectic family, I have never truly had the luxury of having faith traditions.
The only strong tradition of Christianity came from my mother’s family which is extremely Catholic. For both my mother and me, my great-grandmother symbolized what being a Christian was for us. My great-grandmother was a force to be reckoned with. She outlived her two husbands, raised eight children, and attended Mass everyday of her life, even while she had to work three jobs to support her family. Everyone in her town knew of her charity works and her contributions to the church.
So when my mother converted in 1997 to Protestantism, my great-grandmother was quite unhappy and did not support this decision. Because of her faith, my mother became the “Samaritan” who worshiped at Mount Gerazim instead of in Jerusalem in the eyes of her atheist husband and her grandmother’s Catholic family.
Yet, when my mother came to Christ in 1997, she set about serving Christ in the way she knew how: music. She led worship services and gave piano lessons at a small, private Lutheran school in Adelaide for many years. These traditions of service and obedience to Christ were passed to me.
My mother became the “Samaritan.”
In some ways, I always thought of my mother and myself as Huguenots. The Huguenots were French Protestants who struggled to live in a country that was predominantly Catholic. During the seventeenth century, the Huguenots were forbidden to practice their faith in France after many years of fighting between the Catholics and Protestant.
Some of these Protestants settled in Germany where both Lutherans and Calvinists lived. These immigrants made their homes in places where many times the only thing that united them was their shared faith in Christ. Like Ruth, they left their homeland to come to strange place where they hoped that they would find something. A place called home.
As an immigrant who has moved and lived in four different countries, it is sometimes difficult to establish that idea of home. It can be even more difficult to find that sense of home in this community in Christ. In order to receive Christ, some have to leave; be it their original denomination or their country of origin. Yet, the promise that Christ gives us is that we shall not be abandoned and outcasts; Jesus enfranchises his immigrants.
Though “enfranchise” can be a highly charged political term, its basic meaning is to free from bondage and to endow citizenship (or inclusion), in this case, into the kingdom of God. For most immigrants, being included in to a country or a group is the privilege of citizenship. Since Christ died for all of us, the promise for US (for YOU and for ME) is that we receive salvation for ourselves as individuals.
Our individual journeys in our faith walks make us immigrants in Christ. When we put our trust in Jesus alone, no matter where we go, we all belong. Though my family has a strong (though short) tradition of faith, I know that my journey with Christ keeps me from being a foreigner.
Jesus enfranchises his immigrants.
In a community full of immigrants who are convicted of their sins, who can say they belong to our Father’s kingdom other than those who believe in Christ? For when we are all immigrants to Christ, Christ unites and includes us into the kingdom–regardless of our journeys in life.
I am an immigrant in Christ. My home and family is with Him.
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