Grace and Rural Minnesota

The sermon today talked about Jesus teaching about community in Luke 10 when he sent the 70 out with no possessions or anything.  Ingrid Rasmussen, who grew up in our church and just finished seminary, gave a great sermon.  Towards the end she talked about grace: “To be given a gift that you’ve done nothing to earn and for which no payment is required.”  Cottonwood, our hometown, has been growing, but has had around 1100 people in it for the last decade or so.  If you’ve ever read the book How to Talk Minnesotan by Howard Mohr, it was based on here.  Seriously.  He is my neighbor, and I could bike to his house if I wanted.  But “here” is the small-town Minnesota, with the whole “Minnesota-nice” that I love so much.  Ingrid gave examples of grace:

“It’s like showing up to a potluck without a dish.  It’s being picked up on the side of the road when your car breaks down.  It’s the offer of a room when you lose your home.  It’s the dollar from the next person in line when you’re twenty cents short.  It’s the donut hole on Sunday morning….It’s the sweet smile of the baby in the pew ahead of you when the sermon goes on just a tad too long.”

These examples have been experienced, and every single person listening from the congregation could relate with what she was saying.  This summer, I’ve been experiencing the small town that I grew up in like never before.  I appreciate it for its community and its love.  I appreciate it for its history and the fact that you must be careful with gossip, because everyone is either related or best friends.  There are so many connections here! In this part of the country, there are two degrees of separation.  From southern Minnesota and eastern South Dakota, I know people that are connected there.

In 2008, there was a bus accident near Cottonwood and four children were killed from my school.  Well, I had a pretty good connection with each of them, even though I was only related to one.  The national media approached Cottonwood and Wood Lake (which make up Lakeview School), but the people were so protective of the families that were grieving, that no media could get in to talk with any of them.  It was then when I began to realize the community I lived in.  A lot of hugs, hotdishes made for hurting families, and just being there for one another.  True, it isn’t real great to live in a community as small as ours when there is nothing to do, and you don’t really want to be caught gossiping (because it WILL spread quickly), but it’s a wonderful example of the grace of Jesus when people each do something small, and others are touched by it in a way the givers don’t even realize.  I’ve said before that I don’t really like the city, and that a rural town seems like a great place to be.  Well, I totally boldface that statement.

I have no idea what’s in store for me next or where I’ll be, but I know that I come from an incredible town, and people will chat with me when I come home.  They’ll catch up with me and see what I’m up to; they’ll offer encouraging words or a hug if needed.  I am proud to be from Cottonwood, Minnesota, and proud to call it home.  It’s so true what they say: there is no place like home.