A Day Away

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Last weekend, I, and about ten other students piled into cars and headed to Wisconsin for a day away from campus.  I am currently in the midst of midterms, projects, and assignments which all seem to be due at the exact same time!  I was concerned that spending an entire day away from campus was a bad idea, especially with my list of homework continuously growing.

As we drove deeper and deeper into Wisconsin, farther and farther away from campus, my regret continued to grow.  We finally reached the pastors’ “farm” in Beldenville, WI.  It was so beautiful to be out in the country on a fall day.  I was surprised at how calming it was to be away from the hustle and bustle of campus back in Minneapolis.

We enjoyed a day of resting and reconnecting with each other, ourselves, and God.  I especially enjoyed exploring the “farm” and observing all of the gorgeous fall colors.  I also got to have a one-on-one conversation with a new member of our LCM community.  It was really fun getting to know her, and it almost seemed as if I was reconnecting with an old friend!  We ended our day with homemade apple crisp which was delicious!

I found myself having such a great time that I did not want to leave and return to “real life”.  However my homework was calling and it was time to return to campus.  Obviously, school is important, after all, that is what we are here for!  But looking back, I can see that a day away to rest and reconnect was exactly what I needed during this busy time of the school year!

Amy Weispfenning

the importance of community…

This week I was lucky enough to experience something I don’t often get to appreciate on a day that I couldn’t have planned more perfectly! I was going through my normal morning routine when I noticed the sun rising outside. Just the steps of it glowing behind already lit-up buildings, to breaking its first burst of light, to being fully present outside my window made me realize that no matter what was going to happen that day, it would be good.

I had a packed day ahead of me, and I was unsure of how it was going to turn out. I was volunteering in a nearby high school for my education class and it was my first day. A, I was scared only because I didn’t know what to expect, and B, I was just plain excited. It ended up being a great start to my semester of volunteering! I got to help students out and observe a Spanish classroom with tips from the teacher. I loved it.

After that I was back on campus for my dance/movement therapy class only to find myself creating movement that correlated with how I felt for the day and also connecting with others’ movement in conjunction with a significant story from their life. I was constantly feeling this pull to other people and I just couldn’t get enough of it.

That night, I couldn’t have asked for a better ending. I attended a session on the marriage amendment and how to have meaningful and real conversations about it and possibly voting no. It taught me so much about the GLBT community and the real life connections people had with these people that were so connected by their love that nothing could separate them. After this session we had pause, and I just felt my day come together completely.

The reading at worship just happened to be when Paul writes to the Corinthians about the importance of community. For the body has many members… you know it. The part that stuck out to me though, was verse 26.  If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. It got me thinking about every little thing I had done that day, and who I had done it with. Nothing would’ve been so successful and perfect about my day if I didn’t have the communities I shared it with. So as we hear Paul’s words, I think it’s safe to say community affects us a lot every single day. Think about those you love and keep close to you, those who accept you, and those who are simply blessed about your simple presence in their life. Now go out and do that for someone else, and God’s kingdom can grow even bigger than it already is.

+Galatians 5:13-14

Megan Luken

You may say I’m a dreamer

Some events on campus lately have really stirred my thoughts on freedom of speech. From hateful and degrading words being yelled across the mall at students, to an event specifically mocking a religion — yes it is freedom of speech, but in my opinion, it is just plain bullying.

Just because something can be done, does not mean it should. And if an action is purely to try and get a reaction out of someone — it probably is not something that should be done at all.

I believe it is a basic human right to feel loved, to feel accepted just as you are, to feel welcome.

I believe it is a basic human right to not be publicly humiliated, to not be specifically targeted.

Freedom of speech comes with a great responsibility. A responsibility to use your words in a productive way. To share your opinions, and to allow others to share their opinions too. To respect the opinions and beliefs of others. To educate yourself, and to approach topics from a place of genuine curiosity, not from intentional mockery or hate. To have open, honest discussions with people from all different walks of life.

My heart absolutely breaks every time I hear about these events that are intentionally making members of our beautifully diverse community feel singled out or unwelcome. Events where the sole purpose is to see what kind of reaction you can get — instead of events that liven and enrich our community.

I hope and pray for the day that we can have a world-wide community that believes all have the right to feel loved, to feel accepted just as they are, to feel welcome. A community that believes no one should be publicly humiliated nor specifically targeted.

You may say I’m a dreamer … but I’m not the only one

— Valerie

The Blessings…

Please see our blog post for the first round of blessings, and for background on where these blessings came from: http://umnlutheran.wordpress.com/2012/09/12/where-there-is-hatred-let-us-sow-love/

And now the blessings….from students on Northrup Mall, to/for people who are targets of hate (and who were particularly being targeted by a hate-full Christian preacher):

  • All who find yourself on the margins of our society and church, know that God loves you, mo matter who you are, where you come from, what has happened to you, or what you have done.  God made you the way you are, and He loves you just as you are.  You are loved.
  • God loves you!  God called you out by name and claimed you as his child.  PS. YOU ARE AWESOME!!!
  • Prayers for all the people targeted by brother jed today and foever.  God loves everyone just the way he or she is.
  • God’s unconditional love shines down on everyone – especially you.  Keep your faith.  YOU ARE LOVED.
  • You Are Loved
  • Be with those who feel distant or scorned today.  Help them to seek comfort in your arms, Lord.
  • To the GLBT folks out there.  Keep fighting the right fight!
  • You are wonderful. You are purposed. You are loved. You are you.  Stay You!!!
  • There are many different faces, shapes, and sizes; but love has no boundaries.
  • You are loved.  Never forget that.  You are loved and important.
  • I would like to bless the GLBTQ community, and pray that they know not all “Christians” are hateful and angry.
  • God loves you no matter what.  God loves you just as you are.  He is always with you.  Take heart and know that you are loved.  Always and forever.
  • You are worthy.
  • You are a child of God – Jesus loves you!
  • Don’t forget that you are love. you are loved.
  • God loves us all just as we are.
  • God bless all who need it. Women, GLBTQ persons, poor, the hungry, the sick.  Let them know THEY ARE LOVED.
  • You are loved. No matter what.  You are brave and strong.  God loves us all.
  • I pray that you always have hope in God.
  • You are so very loved and cherished.  Your entire self, no ifs ands or buts.  Continue to be a beautiful light in this world. 
  • You are not alone, but deeply and wonderfully loved.  No matter what you do or say or look like.  You are loved.
  • You are God’s and that means you are always LOVED.   No matter what.
  • You are a beautiful child of God.
  • God is with you.  And he loves you always.
  • The God i know loves and cares for you.  You may come as you are, a beautiful child of God, and meet my God (if you haven’t already) in prayer.  God Bless.
  • Be hopeful. Be happy. Be proud. Be you.  Because you are loved.
  • God loves everyone. No exceptions.
  • I pray that members of the GLBT community may feel God’s love and the love of those around them who accept them as they are.
  • God’s grace is for all people. God chose you! You are loved.
  • God loves you.
  • You are perfect!  God made you!
  • I pray for anyone that has been labeled a “heathen” that they may know that there is a place where they are loved – that Jesus loved all – no exceptions.
  • You are special. You are loved. You are perfect.  God’s love is infinite.
  • “Just the way you are” -bruno mars
  • love to all
  • You are a miracle, and were born from love.
  • May your heart remain forever loved.
  • I pray that everyone knows that God loves them, no matter what.
  • Stay Strong. Not everyone is like him. LOVE!
  • I don’t know if God(S) exist, but if it does, i think it would love all of its creation.  You are worthy and deserving of love and respect.  Never ever forget this.
  • You are BEAUTIFUL!
  • God loves you.  Screw anyone who says that he doesn’t, because they’d be wrong.
  • Bless everyone called evil today.
  • Long life, pleasant dreams, and all the love you can stand.
  • Peace and love to you…
  • Forever be beautiful.  Forever be be you.  Be yourself!
  • You are amazing!
  • Don’t believe them.  You are AMAZING!
  • Hashem loves ALL children! White, black, man, woman, gay, straight…
  • I hope discrimination and hatred towards all groups will end someday.
  • May you never doubt the presence of those who love you.
  • Love is all you need!
  • love is love and belongs to everyone!
  • I pray blessings upon my self.
  • No one deserves hate for whatever reason, God bless you for being in this position and stay strong.
  • A blessing to all people, regardless of faith, sexuality, race, gender and other superficial factors that some choose to divide us with.
  • I love and respect you.
  • I hope you learn that hatred is not because of religion.
  • You are beautiful and strong.  Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
  • Peace to the Queer community. I’m proud to be a part of it.
  • I pray that all people, gay, straight and anyone share the same love and same rights.
  • You are beautiful people and you deserve to choose how you live no matter who you are!  We love you!  -Kelly and Jennifer
  • God bless!  Don’t worry about what anyone says! Love, Samantha
  • You are beautiful.  I accept you.
  • Smile!  Jesus loves you!
  • Love!
  • God has loved, is loving, and will always love the whole world.
  • God loves everyone even when they don’t love him.  God knows everyone even when they don’t know him.  God bless us ALL.  Amen.
  • You are equal. You are amazing. That’s it.
  • We can’t stop hate, but we can spread love.  And I love you all!
  • Jesus loves gay people and all of us should too!  I LOVE MY GLBT FRIENDS!
  • Not everyone is a hater!
  • I pray that everyone knows that God loves them, no matter what!
  • God loves everyone. No exceptions.
  • Jesus loves you as you are.
  • No one deserves hate.  Let’s love!
  • My thoughts and love go out to all the women here!

And blessings for Brother Jed:

  • I will never be convinced that you would love me, a gay Lutheran, but that is okay, because I love you and I pray for God to ever hold you and keep you.  Blessings to you.
  • I pray that the negativity leave your soul.  God Bless.

AMEN!

 

 

dance then, wherever you may be…

i am the lord of the dance said he, and i’ll lead you all wherever you may be, and i’ll lead you all in the Dance said  he.

 

This week was a long week for all of us.  We’ve been stretching and growing and we were getting tired.  We also had the complicated nature of Brother Jed’s visit to campus, where hate was preached and vitriol spread.  Our students stood faithfully each day, with signs saying “God loves you,” and “Where there is hatred let us sow love,”  and “Do you believe in a God of love?  So do we.”  And this was exhausting, whether in the sunshine or in the rain, we consistently heard the language of our religion being twisted and turned into something ugly.

And then Friday came, and with it BLOCK PARTY 2012.  We listed to phenomenal music, welcomed exhausted dental students, people whose children were in the hospital, plenty of students we’d never met.  A unicyclist clapped hands with two Muslims on either side of him, students who had just met, and others who had known each other for four years threw their heads back as we sang about being the change we wished to see in the end.  As the crowd thinned towards the end, and Agape’s performance started to feel like a house concert of sorts, with the remnant of 30 or so that remained, and then we started dancing.  We jumped around and waved our hands and felt the catharsis of the love of God being breathed through music and laughter and a shared understanding that ours was a God of love.

The work of witnessing to a God of love, to Dancing, to living that Love out in our lives is hard, and sometimes exhausting work.  But it is also the root of our joy.  It’s why we dance.  It’s why we laugh.  It’s how we can love abundantly and often.  It’s why we return to the lord of the Dance.

The light shines in the darkness

As I stood on the mall in the rain, I heard three words  echo across the open expanse. It was the drawn out call of “you….deserve….hell”.  A brief silence, and then it came again “you…deserve…hell”.

My heart sank.  No.

Quickly, the various students united in protest formed a circle around Brother Jed and his small band of followers. In this circle there was yelling and screaming and crying. In this circle there was weeping and gnashing of teeth. At first I felt  empty as my faith, my God was being dragged through the mud. I couldn’t believe this was happening.  I longed desperately for God to make his presence, his love, known in this place.

Then one of the  students entered the middle of the circle and he began turning to each person, individually addressing them with open arms saying “I love and respect you”.

My spirit lifted. Yes.

A light had broken through this circle and it was reflected in the compassion in his voice and the glimmer of comfort reflected in the eyes of the students he addressed. He even expressed love to brother Jed.

In the 42nd Psalm comes the cry “where is your God” . While earlier I felt at a loss, I now knew that here was the true spirit of my God before me. The spirit that is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love for all. The voice that transcends hate with open arms saying “I love and respect you” just as you are.

At Holden evening prayer that night we talked about holding on to God’s promises. We recited the words:

 

“The light shines in the darkness. And the darkness has not overcome it”.

 

To me. those two lines reflect God’s promise for all of us. That when we find ourselves in places of darkness, among weeping and gnashing of teeth, the light will always shine.  In the moments of fear and anger and sorrow, God is with us, revealing himself in unexpected ways. The voice of hate and darkness will come to pass, but the light and love of the Lord, the spirit that calls out to each and every one of us with open arms  saying “I love and respect you”, that will endure forever.

 

Mark Jensen

 

Where there is hatred, let us sow love….

A man named Brother Jed was on campus today.  He was preaching hatred and damnation as the way we know that God is love.  He called women whores, and used language that rivaled Westboro Baptist to demean the GLBTQA community.  The list of people going to hell, included these people, as well as Muslims, Jews, (the very broad category of) foreigners…among others.

We expected this, and while not wanting to give him too much of our energy, thought it was important to have a religious presence, and a visible message of God’s love, right next to his vitriol.

We also wanted students passing by to have a chance to act positively, and faithfully, in response to the feelings he stirred up in everyone.  We encouraged students passing by to write blessings for the people who were targets of his hatred.  This is some of what they wrote:

  • I pray that all people, gay, straight and anyone share the same love and same rights.
  • You are beautiful people and you deserve to choose how you live no matter who you are!  We love you!  -Kelly and Jennifer
  • God bless!  Don’t worry about what anyone says! Love, Samantha
  • You are beautiful.  I accept you.
  • Smile!  Jesus loves you!
  • Love!
  • God has loved, is loving, and will always love the whole world.
  • God loves everyone even when they don’t love him.  God knows everyone even when they don’t know him.  God bless us ALL.  Amen.
  • You are equal. You are amazing. That’s it.
  • We can’t stop hate, but we can spread love.  And I love you all!
  • Jesus loves gay people and all of us should too!  I LOVE MY GLBT FRIENDS!
  • Not everyone is a hater!
  • I pray that everyone knows that God loves them, no matter what!
  • God loves everyone. No exceptions.
  • Jesus loves you as you are.
  • No one deserves hate.  Let’s love!
  • My thoughts and love go out to all the women here!

And blessings for Brother Jed:

  • I will never be convinced that you would love me, a gay Lutheran, but that is okay, because I love you and I pray for God to ever hold you and keep you.  Blessings to you.
  • I pray that the negativity leave your soul.  God Bless.

AMEN!

A rude awakening.

Where there is hatred, let us sow love. -Prayer of St. Francis

All throughout my childhood– and still now, my mom would scold me harshly for saying, ‘hate,’ because it is a, “Very strong word.” After my experience today, for the first time, I understand what she means. We hear about hate constantly in the news and in casual conversations with friends, but I’m sure I’ve never truly experienced it.  Brother Jed’s message today in Northrop Mall on the U of M campus was, to me, a direct message of pure hate. This is all very complex. Overwhelming. Discouraging. Emotionally troubling. As I listened to his messages of hate toward atheists, GLBTQ community, women in general, I became so disturbed to the point of my stomach turning, legs shaking, and uncontrollable tears as I thought of all of my friends and family who fit into these categories—all who apparently deserve to go to hell. According to what I’ve learned starting in Sunday School as a pre-schooler, we are all brothers and sisters in Christ. God loves everyone. And while I believe that, it literally makes me sick to my stomach to think that this man is my brother in Christ as he’s openly and genuinely calling people whores and sinners. Maybe it’s the strong optimist in me, but despite all of the hate I hear about on a daily basis, I guess I try to be ignorant to it actually existing like this. The fact that some of the students who heard his message today took it to heart and believe it is heartbreaking to me. That was not God’s love. Not at all. Fortunately, Brother Jed doesn’t hang out on the mall everyday. Unfortunately, it may have been someone’s only message/picture of what God’s love and God’s people look like… which really really crushes me. I literally wanted to hug everyone there or move everyone away from this negativity to a different spot and have a dance party or something. But even better… many students listening to Brother Jed created a positive interruption of his message by writing hopeful and positive blessings for the many people–strangers or best friends– who were discriminated against today. Love wins.

You are loved. No matter what.

Kalysta Schlitter