Welcomed With Open Arms

By Pastor Rudy Flores, Messiah Lutheran Church, Aurora

“Here I am. Lord. Is it I, Lord? I have heard you calling in the night. I will go. Lord, if you lead me. I will hold your people in my heart.” #574 of our ELW. This hymn’s message has been in my heart for many years, more than I care to think about. I chose, in 2017, to leave my current job and take the leap of faith to attend Wartburg Theological Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa. There I learned about the possibility my calling might take me to new places. Here is a bit of my story.

As I grew close to graduation, former Bishop Brian Maas of the Nebraska Synod and his staff contacted me about the possibility of considering a call to Nebraska. This was intriguing and scary at the same time as I am a Texas native and never lived anywhere outside of Texas. My wife, Carol, and I sat and discussed this idea and decided to allow the Holy Spirit to guide us. It was hard to leave Texas behind with family and friends not really knowing what we were going to experience, but we made the move to join the meaningful ministry of Messiah Lutheran Church in Aurora, Nebraska, and it has been such a wonderful experience.

Pastor Rudy Flores, pet blessing

After living in Nebraska for about a year and a half, we have come to really love the area and the people! Carol and I have had some great experiences since moving here. We have had the opportunity to ride in a combine and an auger wagon. This is an experience that I know we would have never had if we had not moved to Nebraska. We have been welcomed into our new community with open arms, and a lot of fresh vegetables. We even had the opportunity to pick corn straight off the crop, a new and unexpected experience for both of us.  This is the sweetest corn we have ever had. The closeness of the community is also such a welcome experience. With such a warm welcome, it wasn’t long before Carol and I were attending school events and recognizing people from Messiah and throughout the local community.

When I began presiding over our service, I began my sermons with what I called Aurora First experiences. One of my favorites that got a lot of chuckles was my story about the corn field that is on the edge of our parking lot. I was sitting in my church office which looks over the field and heard a plane in the air. Noticing it was getting louder I looked out my window in time to see a crop duster zoom over our roof down to what seems like just feet from the ground. It was as if the pilot was saying “Welcome to Nebraska!”

Carol and I continue to live and learn about Nebraska and are very grateful for where God’s Spirit has led us and we look forward to other, new experiences to come.