A letter from Mary Nebelsick in the Philippines
It might surprise you to learn that I am in Louisville, Kentucky, right now. It is a surprise to me too. I didn't plan to come, but when my mother called me from the hospital and asked me to come home, I made the fastest arrangements I could and came to Louisville as quickly as the airplanes could fly me here. My mother is doing much better now and is at home again.
When I am in Louisville I always attend my home church, Second Presbyterian Church. This Sunday pastor Steve Jester preached on coming home. He inspired me to write to you about how Second Presbyterian Church has affected my faith journey. I pray that each of you have found a church home as a child and that the faith nurtured then continues to inspire you now!
My family and I came to Second Presbyterian Church in 1969. One year before we had returned to the United States from Beirut, Lebanon, where my father had taught at the Near East School of Theology. In Beirut my brothers and I had attended the German School and my mother kept up with us all. We loved living in Beirut and felt totally at home.
When we children came to Louisville we were totally out of sync with the other kids at school and at church. We didn't know the TV shows, or the music, or how to act. Even though we spoke English, we didn't speak the same language as the other kids. We were simply awkward and felt totally out of place. In addition to this we were geeks at a time when being a geek was not at all popular. I felt lonely and out of place in Louisville and longed to return to my comfort zone.
It was at Second Presbyterian Church that I found the unconditional Christian love and acceptance I was looking for. I found it in the older women of the church, who always gave me hugs and told me I was pretty even though I wasn't. I found it in my favorite Sunday School teacher and in the way the pastor taught our Confirmation Class. I found it in the way that the entire church seemed to gather for coffee hour between Sunday School and the 11 o'clock service and never seemed to want to stop talking with each other. I found it in the solidarity of the multi-generational families in the church and in the way several special people accepted my teenage awkwardness. I found it in the older members' joy over little things like doughnuts at coffee hour and the desire of the Women's groups to make every Christmas special for children who would not usually have any Christmas presents at all. I found it in the men's quiet, stalwart faith and in the deep desire of everyone who sat in the adult Sunday School class to explore the thoughtful, intellectual side of our Christian heritage. I also found it during worship in what is now the chapel but was then the sanctuary. As a teenager year I usually entered the sanctuary feeling, as many teenagers do, frustrated with life and looking for meaning beyond my daily existence. Miraculously, during worship my fears and my insecurities melted away. The measured and solemn progression of the service proceeded from praise to benediction. The beautiful voices of the choir, the glorious sound of the organ, and the sonorous voice of the preachers at Second all focused me away from my struggles and toward God. It was there I found my calling and my purpose. It was there I found my home!
I leave you with great thanks to all of you for being God's messengers to me and the vehicle of God's love.