At the Lutheran Youth of Queensland annual appeal dinner, I spied someone across the room that I really wanted to talk with: Danielle Robinson.
Danielle is the family ministry chaplain at Grace Lutheran Church in Redcliffe. When you meet Danielle, you find that she is affable, quick to laugh and even quicker to engage in the deeper conversations of life. Within her I find a reflection of her favourite Bible verses from Matthew, reminding us that we are called to be both salt and light to the world. She is reminded daily of this by the salt lamp which glows in her house.
Called to be salt and light—sensory representations of the Christian presence within a world so lacking in sense (Matthew 5:13–16).
Because the outside of the room was clogged like plaque-hardened blood vessels, I fought my way through the arteries of the tables. Not wanting to be rude, but still wanting to chat with Danielle, I gently pushed aside an older gentleman who was speaking animatedly with a partner. After nudging him out of the way, I walked on, but then paused to turn around—because I realised what I had just done:
I had just pushed Warren Truss, Deputy Prime Minister of Australia—and our excellent keynote speaker for the night—to the side. Yeesh!
Ah well, lay workers are really important.
A few weeks later, I interviewed Danielle and was blessed to hear her story, which she calls ‘a God thing’.
I heard her laugh, not because it was funny, but because it was a deep source of joy for her. ‘I started out as the owner of one of the best make-up salons in Queensland. For three years in a row, I was voted the top of my profession. Everything was going well … externally. We had all the trappings of worldly success, and yet I felt an internal spiritual emptiness. So, after talking with Alex, I decided to enter Australian Lutheran College. I have enjoyed the transition.’
As she continued to describe how she came to be a lay worker in Queensland, it became apparent that this was a riches-to-rags story—but the rags were not cumbersome. They were, in fact, the rags of Christ’s humility in this world. ‘The trade-off’, she would later say, ‘was earthly riches for true wealth—heaven’s crown of glory’.
Danielle is a deeply spiritual woman and passionate about the life of the church—not just in the present, but for the future also. She recognises the depth of the Scriptures and confessions, and she is deeply moved by different kinds of worship experiences. At the recent lay workers conference in Adelaide, she described the experience as ‘having her feet in two worlds at the same time’. Like Moses, she is drawn out by worship and brought closer to the King of Glory.
It was a true blessing to meet with Danielle. As one who works on the ground floor, with children and young families at Grace, she exudes a sense of hopefulness for the future of the Lutheran Church of Australia.
I think I’m going to get one of those salt lamps.
Reid Matthias is school pastor at Faith Lutheran College, Plainland, Queensland.