As I sit here with all of you tonight, just as so many others have sat gathered together in this beautiful sanctuary and as so many will in the years to come, I struggle to comprehend how it is that the past four years of my life have gone so fast, and moreover all that has happened that has led me to this spot right here on this floor. Wasn’t it just yesterday that I was driving down to St. Peter to start what I thought was going to be the first of four years at Gustavus? Didn’t I just transfer here? I feel like I just got here. And what will happen once I leave? What will happen to everyone? In this Easter season, I can’t help but notice the hamsters of questioning and fear as they spin on their wheels in my head and in all of these questions and fears picture myself as one of the disciples walking unknowingly with Jesus on the road to Emmaus. Or perhaps, I should say the road to the U of M. Over these three years, I have seen and done and learned and loved and lost and grown…a lot. For a lot of that time it has been all too easy for me to get lost in those questions, just like the disciples, of the what if’s and whys, even to the point of wandering into the desert for periods of time, but somehow I have always found my way back to the road. It is through these more difficult times of my college career, dealing with school, vocational calling, and relationships to name a few, that I always find myself thinking of something my dad told me as a kid.
I grew up being very active in the Boy Scouts, ultimately achieving the rank of Eagle Scout, and along the way my parents, particularly my dad, were always there to support me. He would always come along on as many of my camping trips as he could and one memory that stands out clearly was from when I was about 12 or 13. We were in our tent packing up our gear to head home and I was struggling to roll up my sleeping bag properly. I’ve always been one to do things for myself and it was clear to my dad that after the fifth time I was getting ticked. He calmly said “Here, let me show you, and pay attention, because I’m not always going to be here to show you”. While both my parents are thankfully still around today, those words have always stuck with me. As Jesus came among the disciples when they were in confusion and disbelief, so too I think we are called to remember that wherever we are, whatever we are doing, those closest to you may not be there in that moment physically, but what they have said and taught during their time with you will never leave.
Like the words of my father, there are so many things that I have learned and experienced during my time with the many people that make up LCM that have made my time here so wonderful. I could give you a list of names and places and events, but it’s deeper than that. It is here that God has become present through all sorts of community. I’ve realized what it means to live together in a community that supports you for who you are. That says “Hey it’s ok Mr. German perfectionist, none of us have it all figured out either, and that’s not the point, so just take it easy once in a while ok”? Like the disciples in the text from tonight who were called and sent to perform different tasks within the church, the important part to recognize here is that all were called to use the gifts they brought, all were called to work together, like us, to be the hands and feet of God in the world. And what I find particularly exciting about this is the first part where it says “Now during those days when the disciples were increasing in number”
“Now during those days…”
As I look at all of you, particularly the relative new comers, the future leaders, the future hands and feet that will continue to guide this amazing community in the years to come, I can’t help but change that line to “Now during these days” These days, when some of us prepare to leave, to take a turn onto a different road, other people’s roads will merge with the one we left behind and make it even stronger, unique and beautiful.
And as you prepare to go forth and continue building our community each in your own way, I hope and pray that it continues to be one rooted in the spirit of love. If my time as a part of the LCM community has taught me anything, it is the meaning and power of love as an extension of our radical hospitality towards one another in sharing our lives together. Coming to college, and even after my first two years, I was stuck in this romantic-esque rut of understanding love in very superficial terms that always had the plot running the same way. I’d meet someone, hit it off, date all through college, graduate, get married. Yea right. Guess I’ve watched UP too many times. Through many different experiences I have learned that there is more to it than that. Ultimately, I have come to understand what it means to love each and every member of this community for who they are as a person and the light that they shine. For this time with all of you whether it was a few years or a few minutes, I will be forever grateful that I have been able to do my best to follow Micah’s words and walk humbly with each of you and our God, to do justice whether it be in Minneapolis or Chiapas, and all along on this messy road of life, continue to love kindness.
“He has told you, O mortal, what is good: and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God”.
As you continue on your own road, may your soul continue to awaken with new questions, possibilities, friendships and love.