In a rush I was leaving the grocery store excited to get home and cook a delicious dinner. Walking out the door there’s always cars driving in front of the entrance. They’re supposed to wait for the pedestrians to walk but you never know if they will wait or go. In hesitation I paused on the sidewalk next to an elderly lady. She turned to me and said sometimes you just have to go and pray. These three little words stuck in my head, “go and pray.” Hearing prayer spoken about in a public place by a complete stranger caught me off guard but the unnatural environment got me thinking.
I began to think about how God works in mysterious ways and how He is always there. God has been very present in my life in the past couple years and I know that it is because of Him that I am where I am today.
Two years ago, I was a freshman in college, in a relationship, with a great guy or so I thought. I thought for sure we would have a wonderful future together. I thought for once in my life I had everything figured out. God had apparently had a different plan in mind. This relationship fell apart so fast and so painfully I never saw it coming. My heart was broken, I was angry with God. I didn’t understand how He could do this to me. How or why He would allow me give my heart to another individual who would hurt my heart or my trust so drastically.
Over the course of the next year I struggled to get over this guy. I met new guys but I struggled with trusting them. I didn’t know if I could ever trust another guy again. Lost and confused I turned to the one guy who I was always taught would never leave me. The one guy who would forever love me and pick me up if I stumbled. God. I prayed. I prayed and asked why. I prayed and asked for closure. I prayed about it all. Talking to Him it felt as if a warm blanket covered me so to say everything would be alright. This year I grew so much closer in my relationship with God because I knew He would never desert me. I discovered how important He is to me in my life. By this realization, the me full of sunshine began to return.
These two years, yet painful and full of struggles, lead me to trust in Him and His timing. Focusing my energy on Him I was able to see that I had a wonderful guy in my life. A friend I had met when freshman year. God had placed this gentleman in my life but I was too distracted in the wrong person to even consider him. This gentleman had always been there and now that the time was right God put him right in front of me. He makes me laugh like I had never before and makes me smile so big my cheeks hurt every time we see each other. I feel so blessed to now have this amazing guy in my life and every time he makes me smile I see the hands of God working.
It’s wonderful to see God working in this world whether it be a stranger on the street who reminds you to pray, who’s words mean more than she could ever know, or Him working on a broken heart teaching it that its ok to love again. I am so blessed and thankful that I was brought up to know and love God, and turn to Him for help when I get lost. So now I’ll leave you with these words “go and pray,” so that you may be inspired to find God in the world. Find Him in the heartaches and find Him in the joy.
“go and pray”
My older brother Frank is set to marry his fiance Nicole in just over a month, and I couldn’t be happier for him. With all the wedding planning abuzz and everything that goes along with it (suit shopping, decorations, bachelor parties, wedding showers, etc…), it is easy to forget what the most important part of marriage is. It’s not about what kind of cake is served at the wedding reception. It’s not about how much the bride’s dress cost. Marriage is a lifelong commitment between two individuals to stay together for better or for worse. In the church, marriage is a commitment from one person to another to grow together in relationship with God and each other. There is nothing more beautiful in the world than when two people unite under Holy Matrimony.
My parents recently celebrated their 25th anniversary, and have shown me what it means to remain faithful to each other and to God throughout this period of time. They had their struggles (as any family of three boys would), but love always triumphed. They have both made sacrifices to make their marriage work, and shown each other how committed they are to one another through these sacrifices. Marriage is never easy, but if two people love each other as my parents do it is easy to overcome any obstacle that may arise. Too often people get married for the wrong reasons, and their marriage suffers as a result. I cannot personally testify to what makes a marriage weak or strong, but I do know that with a Christ centered marriage, love and grace will always abound.
When I am standing at the front of the church beside my brother Frank, I will be beaming with joy. Joy for the wonderful times I have shared and will share with Frank and Nicole. Joy for the promise that the two of them are making and the lifelong growth of their relationship. Joy for the love that God has bestowed in each of them. And joy that my brother Tony will be watching down from heaven, smiling. I know that Frank and Nicole will have challenges and arguments, but their faith and love for each other will carry them through it.
I did not expect the thrill that came along with the first Pause event of the school year; food, music, friends, and new faces. I could tell I wasn’t the only one who felt that way because I could see all the excitement in all the other leaders as well. This year will have a lot of ups, and a lot of downs, but as long as people know that the LCM community will be there for support this year will be great. It’s awesome to see our group come together and I’m excited to see our hard work pay off this year.
As long as people feel welcomed like I was when I first started coming to events at Grace, I will be very happy. Throughout the whole first semester at the U, I was not involved with any religious group. It wasn’t until my second semester that I saw that there needed to be change in my life and that being closer to God was the fix. I thought I could do it on my own, but eventually I came to see I was walking down a path that I didn’t really want to walk down.
At first I thought LCM was pretty cool and I enjoyed going to all of their events. Not until becoming a leader and getting a behind the scenes look did I really understand how awesome our group really is. The work that everyone puts in and the teamwork that goes on is quite inspiring. This year is about to be a lot of fun, and I can’t wait to grow in my faith along with all of my friends here at LCM!
Welcome back to the returning students, but especially welcome, freshmen! I’m sure you have all been incredibly busy with moving in, meeting your roommate, buying textbooks, and seeing what it means to be a student at the University of Minnesota. And worrying about classes and meals and living on your own… and… and…
Now take a deep breath. I know how crazy things are at the beginning of the year, but trust me- things will settle down. As they do, you may realize you have to schedule times for taking care of yourself mentally by studying and going to class, physically by going to the new rec center or for a run, and emotionally by hanging out with friends.
Around December of last year, I realized that I hadn’t been scheduling time to take care of myself spiritually. I felt slightly disconnected from friends and stressed about school. My friend invited me to come to pause with her one Wednesday night, so I went. I was immediately welcomed by several strangers who are now my good friends. I was able to relax.
Lutheran Campus Ministry is a place of welcome. If you don’t believe me, come see for yourself. We will gather to worship at pause almost every Wednesday night at 9pm, beginning September 4th. I hope to see you there!
Just because I go to pause doesn’t mean my life is completely stress-free. Whenever I feel overwhelmed, I recite the Serenity Prayer:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference
I take a deep breath and I keep going, knowing that I will always be welcomed and supported by everyone in Lutheran Campus Ministry and Grace.
I just spent $9.90 on iTunes. What, you might ask, did I buy? Well let me tell you! I just downloaded all ten of the songs on Kent Gustavson’s Mountain Vespers CD. My decision to purchase these songs is completely nostalgic and let me tell you why!
This year, LCM decided to host Pause, our student worship, every week instead of twice per month like in the years past. In order to keep Pause fun and engaging, we do different services each week, including Traditional Pause, Second Supper, Holden Evening Prayer, and Mountain Vespers.
Mountain Vespers is by far my favorite service. I look forward to it each month! We gather at the front of the sanctuary and sit in a cozy circle. We are lead by our very own folk band and talented soloists as we sing the Mountain Vespers songs. The music was written for a mountain church in Washington called Holden Village, so the songs are homey and very catchy.
I love everything about the Mountain Vespers service! I’m sad that tonight is the last Mountain Vespers of the year! I purchased the Mountain Vespers CD on iTunes so that I can continue to sing along to the songs while I’m on break during the summer.
I would encourage EVERYONE to come to LCM’s Mountain Vespers service tonight at 9pm! Maybe then you’ll truly understand why $9.90 was well spent on these songs!
For a sneak peak, check out the songs here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/mountain-vespers/id210458636
Snow on snow on snow. Projects on more projects, accompanied with exams, papers, and attempting to maintain a social life. IT’S THAT TIME OF YEAR!!!
Senioritis has hit me pretty hard–a year early. With the anticipation of summer, studying abroad in the fall, and warm weather, I’ve mentally checked out of the school year. However, with a 19- credit semester, and plenty of preparing to do for the next few months of life, checking out is not an option for me!
So today, in an attempt to procrastinate my six-page analytical report on US Immigration Policy, due at midnight, I decided to go on a run. I had plans to do a quick, 2-mile loop, but before I knew it, I was standing at the top of the hill in Gold Medal Park–my absolute favorite place in Minneapolis. It’s ahhhhh-mazing how peaceful it is at the top of that hill, amidst the busyness of downtown Minneapolis. For five minutes, I stood at the top of the hill, sweaty, tired, and frustrated with my lack of motivation, asking God to give me energy to finish the rest of the semester with as much energy as I started it with.
As I continued praying aloud, my surroundings became dream-like. It was raining, I noticed that I was standing on green grass, I smelled the river– which always floods, and I heard and felt my heart beating big, full, happy beats. There was an abundance of life in and around me. An abundance of hope.
I finished my run feeling full of energy and life. The Spirit was flowing through me… it was exactly what I needed.
So here I sit, still trucking through my analytical report, enjoying some James Morrison Pandora (I highly recommend it). This song just came on… another friendly reminder to me that if, “There is a mountain, here before me, I’m going to climb it, with strength not my own.” 🙂 [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pLDQEbdHhz8]
Energy and strength to all of you, summer is on its way!
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.
Community is something truly unique and beautiful in humanity. Our ability to communicate and reach out to other, to feel included and have a purpose is extremely powerful. This sense of community is even more important in times of transition and questioning. This is not something that everyone feels they have and that loneliness can be detrimental. Yesterday LCM joined the University in raising awareness for Mental Health issues. As a faith based community we had the opportunity to share why it is important for us to be a light for people in their darkest days. So mental health issues have affected many of us in LCM personally or by those we care deeply for.
By participating in this event I feel like I got to be a part of something so much greater. To know that our community at large on campus is interested in Mental Health and understand the effects it has on our family, friends and ourselves. It was a blessing to be able to put wristbands on strangers and know that an image of community is spreading throughout campus.
My hope for this day is that people have a chance to understand that they are not alone. That people care for their well-being and that these moments of darkness are normal. I hope that they can understand the power of community to help heal the wounds we have. I am so blessed and thankful to be a part of a community on campus that loves so deeply and cares so wildly for those on our campus.