By Heather VanHartesveldt

If I were to create a timeline of how my faith story started, it would begin before I even knew what religion was, when my Catholic mother would take (drag) me and my sister to church where we’d hold hands with strangers while we prayed and dip our fingers in holy water and repeated over and over again to ourselves which hand to use to take communion and which hand not to.

This was before. Before I had the choice, without my parents telling me, to have faith. And let me tell you, I’m not sure I’m very good at it. Truth be told, I like the idea of Religion. I’m not sure I’ve gotten to the point in my faith journey where I feel Religious.

If any of you know the show Gilmore Girls, you may have seen the episode where Lorelai and Rory Gilmore are asked to be Godmothers for their close friends’ children. In it, their candidness reveals what I think a lot of us who are still figuring out where we are in our faith walk tend to start.

The scene went a little like this:

Pastor: So tell me, what are your religious affiliations?

Lorelai: We’re a bit… lapsed.

Pastor: Yes… From?

Lorelai: Well, from religion. But I have a strong belief in good over evil… you know, if I was asked to choose a side.

Rory: I read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

Lorelai: I have a bible…

Rory: I buy tons of Girl Scout cookies!

Lorelai: I have two Mary Is My Home Girl t-shirts.

Pastor: Well, these are very positive, if somewhat irrelevant things… and it seems like your hearts are in the right place…

That’s where I was before I came to St. Luke, if I’m being completely honest. I bought those Girl Scout cookies like the best of ‘em, I helped sell tons of copies of the Bible and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe during my time as a bookseller. Check and check. But I witnessed something during my time at St. Luke that made me truly understand the most important part of it all: You.

But I witnessed something during my time at St. Luke that made me truly understand the most important part of it all: You.

It was you, the volunteers who cut out hundreds of fish and vacuumed the church on their days off. The members who welcomed a visitor from China into their bible study. Those friends who called to ask for prayers for fellow members and people they had never met. The leaders who went out of their way to reach our youth.

It was the people, the ones who so obviously chose good over evil who showed me Jesus is more than rules and traditions. You helped me experience Jesus as more than rules and traditions. Through you I experienced Jesus as a real person who loves and works through others.

That’s all that really matters… to look past the traditions and rules at the simplest thing that makes us who we are as Christians, as humans, as people of St. Luke, Jesus and service to others. And I’m glad I learned this over everything else.