Today’s author is Naomi Sveholm who is a missionary with Central Europe Teachers ( teaching English at a bilingual Lutheran high school in Bratislava, Slovakia with her spouse and two children.

Colossians 3:12-17

The ELCA sees mission as a journey of mutuality and interdependence, an ongoing relationship with partners. The story most used to illustrate these values is the Road to Emmaus, in which a couple of Jesus’ disciples walk quite a distance with a newly resurrected Jesus, talking about his death, without recognizing him. The mission of accompaniment is mutual, a group headed in the same direction, each bringing their interests and talents to the conversation.

What I see in the Colossians text is also relationship. Compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, and love are feelings and actions toward another (even when it’s toward yourself). Forgiveness and gratitude also happen only in relationship. It’s no wonder this is a text used at weddings.

The longer I am in the classroom with repeat students, the more meaningful it feels, and I suspect it has to do with deepening relationships. Relationship is listening to teenagers who have rarely if ever been seen as having opinions with value. It is genuinely asking “how are you?” and encouraging people to protect their mental health even at the expense of their grades (or work, etc). Relationship is also walking, moving together: telling stories, sharing resources, seeing each other as valuable and valued. Even when it’s simply “bear[ing] with one another,” that still shows a commitment to continuing the relationship through a difficult or conflicted time.

I am a missionary at a bilingual Lutheran high school in Slovakia, but I rarely speak explicitly about my faith. Instead, I allow my actions to speak to my relationship with God. Ideally, in our actions and healthy relationships, we “do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus.”

Dearest God,
We want to see you and walk in relationship with you. Help us to find and develop relationships that are healthy, mutual partnerships, to accompany each other through life, and to see the value that each person has and shares. Remind us to do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus.