Lutheran by Osmosis

wedding3shotI like to tell people that I am Lutheran by osmosis. That’s what can happen, over time, when a Catholic girl marries a Lutheran preacher’s kid.

We were married 27 years ago in my hometown Catholic church by the parish priest and a Lutheran minister — my husband’s father. According to my mother, with both a priest and a minister pulling the strings when we tied the knot, our union was sure to last. Our ceremony was pieced together from both the Catholic and Lutheran wedding services to make both Reverends happy. I added in songs from “Godspell” (“All Good Gifts”) and “The Sound of Music” (“Edelweiss”), along with Pachelbel’s Canon in D, to make me happy. (The preacher’s kid just wanted to marry me and didn’t much care about the details.)

By scientific definition, osmosis means the movement of fluids through semipermeable membranes seeking a state of equilibrium. It also can refer to subtle or gradual absorption or mingling (thank you, Religious osmosis happens gradually as well — an awakening here, a revelation there. To be fair, my osmosis probably started long before the wedding. In grade school I wanted to be a server for Mass, but in the Catholic church of the 1970s that job was reserved for altar boys — which really ticked me off. In the mid-1980s post-college, I still considered myself Catholic, though I was questioning the point of the whole Canon Law thing. Before our kids were born, my husband and I joined a Lutheran congregation and became regular church-goers. Over time, some of that Protestant Reformation stuff began to make sense to me. Ten years ago at my father’s funeral I realized I wasn’t Catholic anymore; I no longer needed that much incense or ritual.

However, to this day I’ve never renounced the Catholic church and I still respect the tradition. I’ve never experienced a religious conversion or epiphany … just osmosis. I guess I’m in a state of spiritual equilibrium.

Laura Sternweis


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