Rev. Peter Weston Miller ’10, Pastor at Atonement Lutheran Church in New Brighton, preached in daily chapel for our homecoming week series, “Journeys Home.” Here, he shares his homily from October 5, 2015:
You know it is such a sweet thing to be back at Augsburg and to kick off this 2015 Homecoming week. This chapel is where I preached my first sermon. I get to preach almost every week now at Atonement(!) Through Augsburg Campus ministry, I got to fly in an airplane for the first time. Augsburg is where that “V” word (vocation) really started to find me and I learned this vocation vocabulary that so many Auggies share. Augsburg is where I met my partner. We were both Campus Ministry commissioners. Augsburg was where I really learned to love the city and felt like I was a part of the community. Augsburg, also opened my eyes and my heart to cycles of oppression, white privilege, and where it really sunk it that no one should have to heat there home with a kitchen stove. And Augsburg is where I really where I felt like I found my heart and my home, like I found my people, and found not just the family that is your blood but that family that becomes your blood (line from Finding Forester). It was the family that I met here that allowed me to be real, honest, broken, hurt, critical. And yet also was gifted, unique, passionate, committed, and driven to discern what God and the world needed of me.
Family that Blood that Becomes
You see, I came to Augsburg pretty beat up and struggling. I was not quite 20 and I had been through a whirlwind of loss, my mom had just died of cancer, I had dropped out of school at that other place across the river and I was really disillusioned by the life. I was wounded by life, I had squandered a lot of opportunities, I had self-medicated, played the popularity games and loss. I felt pretty worthless and didn’t know what was next. I had me, but I never really knew what we was. I needed this chapel family. I needed a gospel family.
Ruth: I will go where you go
Augsburg is where I heard these words of radical form of family from Ruth for the first time. Where you go, I will go. Where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. Ruth is someone who was wounded by life, she married into a foreign family, became a widow way too young, experienced famine, and really the loss of everything. She was the widowed daughter of a widow, which by all standards was pretty low in the ancient world. So in other words, she is real. And yet, she was fearless and committed in risking everything to become a new family, despite the naysayers. She felt in her heart called to keep moving forward with Naomi and with the family that was her blood. This foreign widow, resilient and fearless, becomes the great-grandmother of David – the greatest king in Israel’s history.
The Good News for us in this text and what I p experienced at Augsburg: There is solidarity and family here. There is the family that can become your blood here. There is kinship, a community of hope, and people that challenge you to be the God-inspired wonder that you are. And through all the finals and events and relationships and heartbreak and journeys home and again:
God continues to speak through people like Ruth saying: Where you go I will go, where you stay I will stay. God always promises to be there through it all. And that as we find our heart and our home and our people, I thank God that I found my family here – my people. And that wherever our feet may find other places and spaces, we have a community here that beats with the blood in the hearts of so many.
Thanks be to God. Amen.