By Student Servant Leader, Emily Mentz
This past Sunday the Christian church celebrated All Saints Day. It is the time of year when many cultures celebrate those that have passed away before them; perhaps it is something about the fall that inspires this in so many.
All Saints Day is a day of remembrance, as we share stories of those who have impacted us and think about the connection we share with the generations that came before, and those that will follow us.
When I was seven, my grandmother passed away from esophageal cancer, and the memories I have of Grandma Joyce are few, but they are rich. She was a short woman with a smile like home-baked cookies and an embrace that made you feel like you were home and warm and safe. She could often be found sitting on the floor, covered in her grandbabies, bringing an element of calm to the chaos. She had the most grateful heart, as you could give her a plane ticket to Acapulco or a rock you found in the front yard and her reaction to it would be the same. As her cancer progressed and she got her wig, she allowed my cousins and I to touch it, to touch her, to ask questions.
My memories of my Grandma are not clouded by her illness, for her beauty shone through it all. I now see pieces of the memories of my grandma in my mom; in her laugh and the way she answers the phone. As the holidays approach, I don’t think that the loss of my Grandma is one my family will ever cease to feel. However, we have not lost our connection to her, and I know she is among the saints that we will meet again in Heaven.
By Student Servant Leader, Corey Bergman
This year the leadership team of LCM has decided to really focus on reaching out to other communities. We did a river clean up with the Muslim Student Association. We are trying to get in contact with the Black Student Union to plan an event, or even just attend an event of theirs. Other leaders have attended events for the Wesley group, and the Interfaith Council who we collaborated with on the paint the bridge project.
All of this is really cool stuff, but some of you might be asking the question: “Wait if they do not believe what we believe should we be helping them?” or “Don’t we disagree with those groups on some pretty fundamental God stuff?” These questions are totally legitimate because as far as we have been told by history, the media, and other social sources if you disagree with someone you cannot possibly get along. I have spent quite some time spacing out about these questions, and I would like to share with you my answer to these questions.
The way I see it life is kind of like climbing a mountain (Yes I know semi- cheesy metaphor) there is more than one way to the top which is supposed to be the perfect world with everyone peaceful, and happy etc. This being said there is more than one way up the mountain. We as Lutherans are taking one route, but that does not mean it is the best route, it is just the route that is best for us. Who are we to judge the route that other people are taking? Maybe they need more structured rules, or they need more concrete answers than our route provides. The way I see it because we cannot say that our route is the best for everybody, all we can do, as long as they are promoting love in the world, is encourage them, and work with them to make sure everyone gets to the top. It is to this end that I find it important, and cool that we work with other groups on campus to make it a better place to live, and study.
By Student Servant Leader, Lauren Zima
This past Wednesday, I slept right through my alarm, twice. I was late for a meeting where I was a speaker, my car wouldn’t start, I had to stay late at work, and I unknowingly tried to submit an assignment that was due the night before. And by the time I finally flopped down on the couch at 10pm, a little frazzled and a lot exhausted, I realized I’d forgotten to Pause. Yes pause, literally, I’d been on my feet the entire day, but also the LCM Wednesday night service. The one point in my week where I feel confident to drop everything, clear my mind, and spend an hour just being instead of thinking and worrying about everything else on my plate.
This past Wednesday was an exceptionally bad and poorly timed day, but remembering to pause even if it’s not for Pause (haha), is a skill we, as college kids, need to make a top priority. Remembering to pause is both literally and figuratively, the best way to regroup after a long day, catch up with old friends, or take a moment for just yourself to be present and aware of what’s happening around you.
For me, the chance to pause is the chance to step out of the bubble of college and the mass chaos that it can be. After the first psych out of a week that is syllabus week; a cruel concept that tricks you into thinking you will have enough time on your hands to watch an entire Netflix series a week, see your friends every day, and spend hours at the gym, you quickly realize that college is A LOT. It’s a lot of class time, studying, stress, and exhaustion. But after syllabus week is done and you’re settling into your routine of how you personally do college, it’s critical to take time to pause. Whether it be taking the time to watch a Netflix episode (yes episode, singular), go for a bike ride down the gorgeous Riverside trail, or come, literally, to Pause, finding out the best way for you pause and regroup is perhaps one of the best skills you won’t learn in school.
So this month I urge you, regardless of the dozens of to do’s on your list, or items on your plate; to figure out how you pause, and take the time once a week to do it. It’ll be the best thing you do all week. (Unless of course there’s gopher game day!!)
To those friends I have yet to meet,
Coming to the U as a freshman I knew that joining a faith community was a priority for me. I grew up in an incredible church and was eager to find a place for me here at school. Throughout my freshman year I dabbled in different faith groups, never finding somewhere that I really fit.
Transitioning to college is already difficult, as you begin to find out how to balance a more independent life, and I was hungry for a strong community of faith. I longed for a place where I was comfortable but challenged and growing at the same time. My first encounter with LCM was during the spring of my freshman year but due to my job I was not able to really get plugged in. However, my brief encounter inspired me to really commit to getting involved that coming fall. One of the first nights I attended Pause I tried to slide quietly into a pew near the back. My plan to not be noticed was foiled by an amazing student name Heidi as she quickly plopped down next to me and before I knew it, we had exchanged numbers with plans to get coffee. Simply connecting with Heidi made me feel noticed and valued as a member of the LCM community.
For me, LCM stands out among groups as there is a strong emphasis on authenticity, on curiosity and on building relationships rooted in faith. The folks that make up LCM are some of the most welcoming, kind-hearted, passionate, and inspiring people I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing and I’ve truly found my fit. Could LCM be where you fit too? Come connect with us and let us discover one another’s stories. 🙂
I’ll be keeping an eye out for you, like Heidi did for me…
In late May, I had the amazing opportunity to take a pilgrimage with Lutheran Campus Ministry to the monastic village of Taizé in France. (See Pastor Kate’s blog here!). While this community is known around the world for numerous things, such as their beautiful prayer services and the Brothers themselves, one thing that I particularly grew to love while at Taizé was their limited use of technology and the internet, and how that helped me take a break from the world and find peace after coming from such a hectic semester.
I’m actually surprised how relaxing and freeing it was to be completely disconnected from the outside world because I am such an internet junkie; just about anyone can tell you how much I love social media or how I reference random Youtube videos all the time.
Even when I’m travelling and I have the rare opportunity to set down my phone and be thousands of miles away from my stressful, sometimes chaotic life, I don’t let myself get away from it all and just be.
This lead me to be a little worried about the low tech aspect of Taizé that I had heard so much about because I am so dependent on it. Yet, it also made me excited to leave my stressors behind and just have a week focused on faith (which truth be told was something I really needed).
While at Taizé, I didn’t use my phone for an entire week. There wasn’t cell service, so I wasn’t texting or calling somebody every few minutes. There wasn’t WiFi surrounding the village, so no easy access to Facebook or email. (In fact, if you wanted to use the internet, you had to be quite methodical about it and buy a Wi-Fi card. Then, you had to go to a specific area of Taizé which was the only deemed Wi-Fi zone).
The first night was admittedly difficult because I’m so used to scrolling through my phone at night. But after that, I was thrilled to be rid of my phone and internet; I didn’t even once think about going to buy a Wi-Fi card.
At Taizé, I met so many amazing people that I have now become friends with from all over the world and the best part about interacting with them was that none of us were distracted by our phones. When I would talk with someone, there wasn’t a screen in front of our faces the entire time; we would just talk, pure human interaction. This unhindered communication allowed us to really open up and get to know one another in an extremely fast and deep way, which is nearly impossible to replicate back in the States with technology so readily at our fingertips.
Yes, technology is fantastic and technology is actually what is helping me keep these great Taizé friendships thriving. But we need to remember on a daily basis not to let it own us; our phone is just a hunk of plastic and we have the power to turn it off for an hour, or even a day, to get some alone time.
It is also worth remembering that there are few things greater than having a face to face, in-person conversation with somebody and we should try our best to not let our phones get in the way of building those relationships. I truly believe we see God through interacting with others, and when we use our technology to put up a wall between us and the other or to distract ourselves from the world, we aren’t being fully present on this earth and we aren’t being fully present with God.
As stated before, I am a self-proclaimed internet lover and I’m not looking to give it up anytime soon. But after coming home from Taizé, I am continuing to make efforts to curb my usage of it, like by turning off my phone while I pray, leaving it in my purse when hanging out with a friend or just listening to the sounds of the city when walking home from work, instead of blasting music. It’s hard to pull yourself away sometimes, but when I do, I feel so refreshed and not as overwhelmed by the busyness of life.
It’s amazing the beautiful, normal, everyday things you can miss while being sucked in by technology; I want to intentionally choose to miss out on less of these things.
I’m someone who, though I love words (oh do I love words) routinely feels like words can’t get at the immensity of the situation. I often feel like this when talking about God, strange as that may be for a preacher to say.
I definitely felt like this after I heard the news about Charleston.
I was particularly turned off by the performative posting happening on my Facebook feed, and was internally struggling with what it meant to stay silent in our social media infused world versus contributing to the frenetic buzz that followed Charleston (and seems to have been quickly replaced by posts about Father’s Day).
I was both comforted and challenged by my colleague in Houston, Brad Fuerst’s post:
- You get caught up into a visceral divine compassion when the pain of others has a purchase on your life. IMHO maybe set aside the opportunistic punditry. For now, set aside the quibbling over semantics. Set aside platforms and broken agendas and finger pointing and conjecture…for as long as it takes to be tuned into God’s sweet and painful song of compassion. This, I think, might be what the pained and grieving and accused need most from you now: to listen…with compassion…with your heart.
I, too, decided to stay silent.
Instead I’ve been listening, to the still small voice in me that I trust is Spirit, and to some very thoughtful pieces that have been posted. I’ve been talking with those I love and respect, but mostly just praying. Because I feel sad. So sad. And I feel paralyzed. And hopeless. And angry.
Racism is indeed a gaping wound in this country that refuses to heal, and that we pretend doesn’t exist. It is a structural sin, and we who are complicit need to renounce that sin. It’s present in our church in so many ways. This young man’s family is a part of an ELCA church. It’s present in white lives in so many ways.
We have work to do, brothers and sisters. I have work to do.
I differ with John Stewart on one point, and that is his hopelessness. I watch the way Mother Emmanuel church is responding – the way the black church is responding – and I find hope in their witness. Forgiveness and Justice Seeking happening hand in hand. I’ll take my cues from them, and encourage you to do the same.
When one of us suffers, we all suffer. And when one of us experiences healing, so do we all. Let that admonition from Paul be our sustenance and guide in these days.
When the frentic posting has stopped, that’s when our long, slow work towards healing begins. Listen. Pray. Simmer. Get angry. Stay focused. Talk to people you know and respect, especially people of color. Keep your eyes open for ways to act, and then do it.
We are the only hands and feet and beating heart that Christ has on this earth. Let’s use ours to the glory of God, for the reconciliation of God’s people, and the healing of God’s good earth.
May it be so.
I recently traveled to the ecumenical monastic community in Taize, France (called “Taize”) with LCM’s small student vision team. This community is fascinating for a number of reasons; it’s most known for it’s contemplative worship and music, and it’s also a point of pilgrimage for hundreds if not thousands of young adults across the world EACH week. Most interesting and inspiring to me, however, is its inception as a place of reconciliation –a community born in a call to respond to the Jewish refugee crisis in 1940 – and the way that community lives out it’s call to reconciliation now.
One of the ways the brothers of Taize support this ministry is by selling pottery. I purchased this beautiful blue chalice and paten (cup and plate) to be used for communion, and shared by LCM and the community of Grace University Lutheran Church (see above). All sorts of beautiful metaphors were stirring in my mind. And then, despite carrying it on, and lugging it on trains, buses and planes, on the way home it chipped. Which was deeply disappointing to me. After some thought, however, I decided to save the plate, and use it anyway.
What a more fitting tribute to our shared humanity, our brokenness as individuals, and the way we are gathered together as Christ’s body.
Our community at LCM has long prided itself as being a place of theological and political diversity, and this year we struggled with how to live that out. There was some discord, and some division, We are, as humans and human community, almost always in need of reconciliation. We own that.
And we also proclaim that it’s into those chipped vessels, those broken places, and those cracks that God’s light shines, with power and purpose.
The team of students that traveled to Taize was called by their peers to explore a Christian community different than our own. They were also charged with bringing back and integrating those learnings into our community. After we left Taize, we spent a good chunk of our (one!) day in Paris reflecting on our year as a community, and what we might bring back so that LCM can continue growing into a thriving, generative community that bears witness to God’s love on campus.
We talked for a long time about theological diversity, what it means to claim a particular theology and still make room for difference, how we’re all (as in ALL of us) still figuring out how to do that well, and how we can to that better in the coming year. Going into our broken places is hard, and without this trip, I doubt we would have had time and space for this conversation.
We don’t yet have the answers, but again, Taize may have something to teach us. When asked about their mission of reconciliation and how they live that out, Brother Emille said that they “trust, and pray.” While that honestly seemed to be a bit naïve to me at first, when faced with our own situation it seems like the best way to proceed; trusting in God and our community that we’ll work together to bind up the broken pieces, and rooting ourselves in prayer as our starting point. I pray that it’s as simple, and as complicated, and as deep as that.
In Anthem, Leonard Cohen croons,
“Ring the bell
that still can ring.
Your perfect offering.
There is a crack
That’s how the light gets in.
That’s how the light gets in.
This chip, this crack, in our paten/plate will continue to remind me of our time at Taize, and our striving to experience reconciliation. In the meantime, we also trust and pray that God shows up in our cracks, shining so much light and beauty and hope into our lives, into your lives, and into this world.
May it be so.