September’s Four Cardinal Guidelines – Seeking Direction on My Faith Journey

I reflect on my time during the YAGM program from the Orientation at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago (LSTC) to now in Nyíregyháza, Hungary. I mentioned in a previous blog that there are four guidelines that I am choosing to follow as I progress through this year and here are some thoughts and reflections I have had to this point. Hope you enjoy!

Intentionally Living the Gospel

The YAGM program has done a great job at intentionally making us recognize our privilege in U.S society and the world. An important part of that is identifying the systemic oppressions that have embedded themselves in society and the complications and influences they have on our everyday decisions and outlooks. I try to remember that Jesus was a de-constructor of these systems, through faith and presence. He broke from the systems that dictated the lives of the people he met and accompanied those he was with regardless of their social status, economic status or physical disabilities. He was not perfect either, even giving judgement to the Gentile woman (Mark 7:24-30) who was different from the “lost sheep of Israel” (Matthew 15:24). Though he was not perfect, that passage was important in showing the human side of Jesus. It’s a relation to us as humans, such that although these systemic oppressions influence us to judge someone who is different or “undeserving”, we can change our attitude and actions. Let’s try to recognize these systems and follow Jesus in de-constructing them.

Surrendering to Chaos

We try to fix things. At least, that is what the culture and society I grew up in taught me.  I’m supposed to be a fixer. Create or restore order. Sometimes, you try to create order and it turns out crashing on top of you. In those times, it may have been best to surrender to that chaos for when you are so busy trying to fix something, you forget to accept the chaotic nature of the universe. One quote from Tabby that I will forever keep close is related to her RN experience in the ICU at Abbott Northwestern in Minneapolis. Death and the chaos that surrounds it is a normal thing in hospitals and her letting me know that “Death can be beautiful” illustrated this surrender to chaos. We try to build order to keep this chaos at bay when that chaos can also be beautiful, even in death.

 Letting Grace Win

I have issues. One of my biggest issues is accepting gifts from others such as someone paying for my meal. Recently, it has been difficult for me to accept the gift that the Faith Lutheran congregation in Morris, MN has given Tabby and I to pursue our YAGM year. Difficult because I did not grow up with my own home congregation but also difficult because I am much a “provide for myself” kind of guy and try to not rely on the generosity of others. But as I force myself to reason my way through this gift that the Morris congregation gave, I forget the beauty of grace. Let grace win Tony. We are all children of God and provide for each other, not owe, for grace is unlimited like God’s love. Many thanks and blessings to all of you who walk alongside and support me as I let grace win.

 Become Servant To, Not Service For

It can be so easy to fall into the mindset of serving others the way you think they can be served based on your talents and skills. What can I offer? I have learned that to be servant is to just be with those you are with which does not necessarily mean applying your skills and talents as a service for them. One thing I am surprised I will be doing this year in Hungary is helping people learn and practice English! It has been a big push in our community of service to make sure the students and workers we are with practice their English which for one of many reasons may help them gain more opportunities in the future. As I am encouraged to speak English, many Hungarians also expect for Tabby and me to not speak or learn much Hungarian; one reason we have heard is that Hungary is a small country and Hungarian has little use on the world stage. However, learning Hungarian is part of becoming servant to my community. Communication is key to accompaniment and being servant to my Nyíregyháza community. I also notice little hints of joy when we do speak Hungarian around them 😊

Tony and Tabby Earth and All Stars @ Kertvaros
Tabby and I playing “Earth and All Stars” at a Sunday service at the Kertváros Lutheran Church, Nyíregyháza 

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