Over New Year’s weekend, Lutheran Student Movement USA held their annual gathering for college students at Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago. I had the privilege of attending this gathering along with another UW-Madison student who is also named Claire. Students from all nine regions came together to worship around the theme Dis/comforting God. We spent four days focusing on Micah 6:8, “Do justice, love mercy, walk humbly with your God.” We were encouraged to lean into our discomfort and think about how we can turn those feelings of uneasiness into positive avenues of change. For me, leaning into discomfort took many forms. I read scripture in English and Spanish during a worship service even though my Spanish is mediocre. It made me nervous, but it was more important to be inclusive to the congregation I was visiting. 

At the end of this gathering, it came time to elect new regional representatives for the coming year. I didn’t run for election to represent region 5. I didn’t even want to, but the Holy Spirit called me over and over until I listened. I am now very happy to say I am the new Region 5 Representative for Lutheran Student Movement USA. This means meeting with the rest of the National Council twice in the coming year as well as monthly Skype calls to plan worships and events across the nation. Pastor Emily is also the lead pastor for Region 5 so I will be very well supported on this new journey.

Overall it was an amazing opportunity to come together and worship, to be reminded of a God that calls us to be activists locally and globally, a God that says “Black lives matter and refugees are welcome in My house”, a God that knows Love is Love and women’s rights are human rights. But also to remember a God of mercy and grace that forgives our sins and heals until we’re whole. This was a gathering to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with my God. I couldn’t have had a better experience.   -Claire Embil, Freshman