A few days ago, probably triggered by all the craziness around COVID and Brexit, I was hit by the reality that I live in a foreign country. After four years of living in Durham, on most days I don’t feel like a stranger anymore or like I don’t belong. But every now and then I realise that I might always feel a bit different from the people around me and that there are still things about the UK that I can observe and study without really understanding them beyond a surface level.
Sometimes, I end up wondering why I am even here and why after a challenging first year I started to feel so at home in Durham that I felt happy to stay for a Master’s and now for the Kings Internship. The more I think about this, the more I believe the reason is that I know I have family in the Church here – within Kings and the wider Christian community in Durham. I have often been able to experience the joys of this family through great friendships, worshipping together on a Sunday (especially in pre-COVID times), random deep and meaningful conversations with people I barely knew, or surprising acts of hospitality. But I have also had my days of feeling lonely, hurt, or disappointed in the Church. Over the last few years, I have been able to grasp more fully the reality that, as followers of Jesus, we are family – not because being part of this family always feels amazing, comfortable and fun but because we are all adopted into his family by God the father and Jesus calls us his brothers and sisters.
The fact that, during lockdown with my biological family in Germany, we would often get frustrated with each other or have our misunderstandings did not make me question whether we were really family. But we had to work hard, listen well to each other, and have grace with one another to make life together work. Being part of God’s family might not always be that different and it is an encouragement to know that when family is difficult, we can fix our eyes on the One who unites us in the first place.
“So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone” Ephesians 2.19-20