On Sunday morning the girls and I took a road trip to Immanuel Lutheran Church in Dunnell, Minnesota. My great, great grandpa Bredberg helped mix and lay the brick foundation of this church. He would work a full day on the farm, ride four miles on his horse into town and keep working on its construction.
And now, 150 years later, we were all gathered to celebrate the abundance of goodness that has happened under that cross. My mom was baptized, confirmed and married my dad in this sanctuary. My dad was ordained at the altar.
So there was much to celebrate- and that’s just our tiny slice of family history with this church!
All day long I kept wondering is 150 years a long time or a short time? It’s 15 decades. My aunt Annie was there, and she has been present for 8 of those decades. I think sometimes we imagine ‘back then’ to be nearly prehistoric because technology was so different- as in Grandpa Bredberg mixing his own bricks. So clearly the world has changed. But we all remember life before cell phones. And it wasn’t actually that long ago, though it now feels like another world entirely.
After the church service, I drove with my Uncle Carl and cousin Michael to see Stony Hill Farm, the farm I am writing about. The great-great grandparents on the other side of my family (my grandpa and grandma grew up on neighboring farms) homesteaded this land after working sixteen years in Iowa to be able to afford it. There are stories all over this place, and I am trying to write them the best I can.
And after a luncheon of fried chicken and mashed potatoes and a fantastic program to reminisce and sing, we went out to the cemetery and walked back and forth until we found the gravestone of Jennie and Andrew, whose lives I have been imagining and writing for the past year.
I looked at the years they were born and died. Aunt Annie was just a few years old when Andrew died, which means 150 years is just two lifetimes. Andrew’s and then Annie’s.
And I think I decided 150 years is just not that long ago.
But it is definitely worth a huge celebration for all the life and death and joy and heartache shared with faithful brothers and sisters in Christ. And I am so glad I got to be a part of it. Driving home I realized I felt the same encouraging call I feel after a great Christian funeral: Now it’s your turn. The story is true. Get out there and run.