I Am St Nick: Val Gruenwald

“I am St. Nick.” When Douglas proposed that simple statement to guide us as we think about stewardship, it immediately felt right. In four words, it sums up what the experience of St. Nicholas has been for me. The emotional reaction came first – the same kind of feeling I get when I am home, surrounded by the people who know me best. Where I can take a sigh of relief at the end of the day and settle into its comforts. As I reflected on the similarities, I realized that St. Nicholas is my family of faith, my second home.

I realized that just as we cherish each member of our family at home, seeing how each one contributes something unique that makes our family what it is, we are each a treasured member of our family at St. Nicholas. No one is anonymous. Every single individual brings another experience of God’s love to our midst, as we gather to celebrate the liturgy as a family of faith.

I also thought about what it takes to keep each of those families sheltered, cared for, educated, challenged, and all the other things that go into creating a strong, loving family. I know that as “Mom” (now “Grandma”), I’ve had a pivotal role to play in each of those areas. Along with every other member of my family, there are unique ways I contribute to what’s most important to us. This is so true of the role each and every member of my St. Nicholas family plays, as well.

The physical home where these things happen is an important part of our family’s story. It is where we gather, where each person is nurtured. It is a little oasis when the cold winds howl outside. It’s where each person who crosses the threshold knows he or she is loved and appreciated. It’s where we talk of what matters most to us, explore the depths of our experiences, discuss – and debate – what we believe. Isn’t that exactly what our experience of St. Nicholas is, too? It’s hard work to keep our home that oasis. There is physical work to be done and bills to pay. I know that both homes need my elbow grease and my financial contribution to be that place I want for my families.

Why have I chosen St. Nicholas for the past 9 years? It’s required far more hard work and personal sacrifice than my previous (huge, wealthy) church! It is because St. Nicholas lives out the Greatest Commandment Jesus spoke of, in a way I have never experienced in any of the many churches I have known. When asked by the crowd, Jesus said all the laws and commandments come down to just one: “Love your God with all your heart; and love your neighbor as yourself.”

St. Nicholas is where I find this message being lived. And I want to do whatever I can to keep that experience alive for my immediate family and my faith family. I can do that best by remembering that “I am St. Nick.”

Valerie Gruenwald

-Val Gruenwald

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *