November 8th, 2018

By: Rachel Gonzales

RENEWING GOD’S HOUSE THROUGH LEARNING AND GROWING:  Philippians 4:9 Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.  

Growing up in the church, my connection with God was largely related to the community I was surrounded by at Salem.  In high school, I had my first personal experience with God while spending a week outside of my comfort zone in New Orleans, LA at the ELCA youth gathering.  This trip would be the first of 3 gatherings, and the first of three service trips to New Orleans. In 2009, the theme of the ELCA youth gathering was Jesus Justice Jazz.  The focus of this gathering was social justice. The events of this trip continue to influence my life and contribute to where I am today. Social Justice is a large part of what I see in God, and therefore important in my daily life.

 I had witnessed God’s work in the comfort of my own community, surrounded by people I knew and loved dearly.  While I grew spiritually through youth group and other church activities and services, I believe that we grow most when we are in unfamiliar territory and in the face of new challenges.  In transferring to Marquette, I had removed myself from anything familiar. Nervous and alone in a large city, I had challenged myself and was forcing myself to grow in a new environment, similar to my first trip to New Orleans.

 I took my experiences with God at Salem and chose to expand my personal experience to Marquette and Service with MARDIGRAS.  What I had learned about social justice in 2009, ultimately led me to grow in faith at Marquette and has led me to what I feel is my calling, social work.  I had seen God’s work, his love, and grace in the ELCA youth gathering, service projects throughout college, and I continue to see it in my everyday work. I continue to learn and grow outside the church.  I am taught by God in the people around me and challenged every day.

 Dear Lord, Help us to seek justice in all things for all people, as your son has done for us. Help us to see the needs of others outside our church community, and work through our hands to help others learn and grow in faith under your grace.  Help us to grow in our own faith, and learn from you so that we may know peace. Amen


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Salem Lutheran Church affiliated with the E.L.C.A. Salem is a vibrant welcoming Lutheran community that, through the grace of Jesus Christ, is connected within by love and reaching out in hope to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with one another, the community and the world.

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