Pop-Up Theology*

Written by Molly Hawkins

As college students, reading and interpreting scripture on a progressive campus can be challenging. As a young woman, experiencing the social impact of a new era of feminism, overflowing with passion and a demand for change, it can make reading scripture especially challenging.

At the beginning of the semester, Pastor Kate read a passage from Genesis chapter 2:

The Lord God said: “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a suitable partner for him.” So the Lord God formed out of the ground various wild animals and various birds of the air, and he brought them to the man to see what he would call them; whatever the man called each of them would be its name. The man gave names to all the cattle, all the birds of the air, and all wild animals; but none proved to be the suitable partner for the man. So the Lord God cast a deep sleep on the man, and while he was asleep, he took out one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. The Lord God then built up into a woman the rib that he had taken from the man. When he brought her to the man, the man said: “This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; This one shall be called ‘woman,’for out of ‘her man’ this one has been taken.” That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body.

This passage left some students feeling a sense of hope and others feeling discouraged. As a result, a few of us met Pastor Kate the following week to have a theology discussion about this passage and how it contradicts or reinforces our beliefs about feminism, unity, and gender.

As we dove deeper into the passage, and learned more about feminist biblical interpretation, I walked away with a few new insights:

  • The first is that God provided the man with an abundance of natural life and that simply wasn’t enough. Until the creation of a woman, the man was lonely. I believe that this enforces the idea that women are important companions. Maybe the fact that God created women last does not mean our value is any less than that of a man’s, but maybe it reinforces how valuable we actually are. My favorite Christian blogger, Ann Voskamp, once wrote “Every life needs a woman. Every woman needs an advocate. Every advocate needs a dream. Every life-giving dream needs a woman. And we never stop circling back to the gift of women, the hope of women — the promise of women.” I think this quote encompasses the idea that God intended for women to be a hope and a promise.  Jesus turned to women, trusted women, and relied on women. I believe that women are a hope and a promise for the world.   and that was highlighted in this passage.
  • The second thing that stood out to me about this passage is that a woman came from a man’s rib. Within our theology discussion, we brought up many different ideas about what this may mean. When I read this, I immediately thought about gender. I believe that what God was trying to say is that we are more alike than we are different. Society likes to put things in boxes because it feels certain and comfortable. But I believe the things in this world that are most real are the things you cannot put in a box.

Faith necessitates being comfortable with the uncomfortable. As we wrestled with this passage, I wondered if God might be trying to tell us to stop looking for what makes us different and start looking at what makes us the same. If I walk away with nothing else from this passage, I know that it’s true that we came from each other for each other.

*LCM-TC looks forward to hosting more “pop-up theology” gatherings throughout the semester, where we dig deeper into a question that was posed in worship, and lift up student voices as they make meaning while reading scripture. Keep an eye out for more student bloggers talking about their understanding of how scripture is meeting the young adult experience!


LCM Huddles: Showing Your Whole Heart

Written by Julia Breidenbach

Screen Shot 2018-02-04 at 7.15.09 PMAs a self-proclaimed perfectionist and chronic worrier, I frequently look at my life and give myself a lot of “shoulds.” I should be spending more time on self-care. I should exercise more. I should park my phone after 10:00 p.m. so I can actually sleep for once in my college existence.

As college students, we spend so much time in our heads. Right now, we live for theory, definitions, equations and complicated models. It’s so easy, at least for me, to forget that I am more than a vessel for learning and applying information. I am a human being, not a human doing, as Pastor Kate sometimes jokes. And yet every time I simply be, my shoulds and self-criticism pop up like the shark from Jaws.

As a student training in the mental health field, it is very easy to pathologize all this; not only am I a stressed-out, guilty wreck, I worry about being a stressed-out, guilty wreck. I remember finals last year, having so much to do and somehow sleeping the whole day despite the fact that I did not have time for sleep.

image4I felt like I was the worst college student, until I went to Pause and talked about my seemingly endless weaknesses with other Lutheran Campus Ministry members. When I shared, I was so relieved to hear others had a similar experience. “Don’t worry; we are all there.”

There is so much power in the conviction that we are not alone. I felt so much less pathological and existentially weak when I realized that a lot of people were going through not only the mistakes I was, but the shoulds and self-judgement followed by these mistakes.

Screen Shot 2018-02-04 at 7.17.56 PMAfter watching Brené Brown’s Ted Talk on vulnerability, I felt the very familiar self-judging perfectionist emerging from the deep dark depths of my insecurities. Part of being a perfectionist for me is wearing dense armor so it appears that nothing gets to me; I really don’t like admitting I’m sad, stressed or angry, and a lot of times its my silence about what I am going through that keeps me feeling alone.

However that night, I challenged myself once again to be vulnerable, to be real. That night we all embodied courage, a word that Brené Brown defined as “showing your whole heart.” I learned last year that I could go days without talking to anybody if I wanted; this campus can easily be large, isolating, and anonymous. Shedding my armor felt so good because I was no longer anonymous; I was seen.

Screen Shot 2018-02-04 at 6.57.27 PMIn sharing our messy, imperfect stories full of shoulds and some mistakes, I felt so close to these women. It was probably a -5 degree day, but I felt warm. Drinking in the wisdom of my huddle group’s stories, I felt like I knew myself a little better now too. And for just a little bit, I could breathe easy with my inner perfectionist quiet and pondering.

The Light Shines in the Darkness

Written by Sophia Litkewitsch

I’ve felt a heaviness on campus this year, more than in previous ones. Every day seems to bring fresh news of scandal and disaster, making staying informed an exercise in either helplessness and the resulting frustration, or in pitting sanity against our duty to be engaged local and global citizens. This state of the world can inspire fear and fatigue, which isn’t to say that either is an unreasonable response, but I think we get into trouble when this kicks off a chain reaction.

Both on the news and in personal experience, I’ve observed a positive feedback loop between fear and a step away from people. The more afraid we are the less we want to interact with community, the less of the good in it we see, the more afraid we become and so on. In essence, fear becomes an isolating paralytic in the face of circumstances that call for united action.

At times like this hope can seem naive bordering on reckless, but what are Christian communities called to be if not sources and announcers hope? From the first Advent to this Advent, we have been called to embody and spread the Good News in the face of political turmoil, economic hardship, and terrifying uncertainty. And despite everything, the news can indeed be good. Not just in the abstract sense, not just in the liturgical sense, but in tangible, everyday ways. How? Because we have a say in it.

We are given the choice between disengaging or reaching out, isolating ourselves or bearing witness to the hope around us, surrendering to helplessness or starting where we are with what we have to try and be stewards of our world and our neighbors.

I’ve seen this on campus this semester so many ways; friends making sure everyone gets home safely on the weekends, TA’s and professors going above and beyond the call of duty to help their classes, students organizing and giving time to causes they believe in, and so much more.

Hope on this campus is not always loud. It is not always public. It does not always draw attention to itself. It isn’t even always confident; but it is very much at work. The hope we get to be witnesses of and servants to isn’t a dusty abstract concept, it is the call to action and all the ways we say “yes” to that call. It is the rejection of apathy and defiance of fear. So as we move together into this season of Advent, whether it is with words or actions, in bold proclamation or hesitant admission, let us declare together: The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

500 Years New

Written by Maddie Lindahl

During the season of Reformation, I think I matched the church. In this year, and more specifically during Reformation Week, we have entered a period of reflection and newness. Taking a step back, we have been asking: now that it has been 500 years, how has that reformation shaped us? Others? What joy, anguish, disturbance and peace has it brought? How did we get there, and where do we go from here? As we ask these questions in the church, I too ask them of myself.

Just over a year ago I was so new. I was so new that I felt like it was my freshman year all over again. But it wasn’t. I was a junior, adopting a new major and transferring here because of it. Even though I grew up close to the cities, and have spent some time on campus, I still felt out of place. No other juniors seemed as reformed as I felt. Classrooms were new, professors were new, peers were new, GPA was old (apparently some things you just can’t reform). I grasped for familiarity, and though it took a while, I found some pieces.

Last year I felt so new because I was reforming myself. For two years I struggled to fit myself into the mold of my major: chemical engineering. Engineering is a wonderful thing that we depend on daily, but it was something I could just never find my fit in. I could never envision what I would be doing a year or two after graduation. This lack of direction made it difficult to find passion for my classes. Without passion or direction, I struggled. My grades dipped embarrassingly. The identity I had made for myself as an overachieving student vanished overnight. No, literally, it took one day of three midterm exams at once to wipe away most of my self-confidence. This defeat shook me to my core and I stayed in that shivering state for longer than I like to admit. I tried to disconnect because it felt better than staying connected to all that shame and disappointment. It took me a whole year from that event to determine that I needed out. I needed to get away from something that felt like it could only ever strap me to the idea that I was not good or passionate enough. I finally decided to change majors as a result and that new decision brought one thing: the most powerful, immense peace I have ever felt. It was such an overwhelming peace that I laughed out loud by myself in the middle of a campus coffee shop. And since then, I have been reforming, restructuring how I think of myself, and how to understand my value now that I am not a perfect student. Reformation to me has never been about perfection; it’s about a better understanding.

Reformation is so real, and newness is so real to me. I have made very intentional changes in my life to find newness, but newness has also found me in unexpected places. I haven’t yet stopped reflecting on my experiences as a freshman/sophomore and transfer student.

Now I am a senior in college about to graduate this spring and yet I stand here still feeling so new. I just got here. I think understanding that reformation is a path of continual process is important. Has the church ever really been static? And have our lives ever really been static? For me, the answer is no! We are so dynamic and so is our world and our church. The newness that we find every day in our lives speaks to this. So I ask you to pause for a moment and reflect on all this new, both in your life and the church.

What is new and frustrating; what is old that should be new? How could the newness be affecting others, or yourself? It has been 500 years since Martin Luther started the reformation, but I think that things still feel new. So I ask God to guide us through the new, to learn from where we came from, and let these reflections guide us on our paths going onward.

Welcome to the University of Minnesota!

Hello amazing, wonderful, human!

I hope I find you in good health, a happy spirit, and excitement for the upcoming year. There will be a lot going on when you arrive on campus, and it will be beyond exciting to get started on your path to the “real world,” but let me tell you something in advance—there’s going to come a moment when you realize that you’re exhausted and you need a break.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret. It’s something that, I will admit, I had help discovering. It’s a group that is full of so much passion and energy but also creates the perfect time to finally Pause. From exploring your dorm and running around all three banks during Welcome Week to getting lost on campus and having to stop someone and say, “Excuse me but could you direct me to ___,” I know it will be a long, tiresome, exciting, funny, stressful adventure, and you’ll be in desperate need for some place to just stop, take a deep breath, and relax.

Look no further—Lutheran Campus Ministry, aka LCM, is the place for you! The first Wednesday night I went to worship, an hour service called Pause, was during a thunderstorm. It was maybe the third week into the school year and I arrived at Grace University Lutheran Church drenched and stressed out. I was still making the transition from living at home with my family to living at school. My pastor from my home church recommended LCM to me, and I hoped that in my time of need for familiarity, I could find a bit of peace.

I realized I was walking into an unfamiliar space by myself during the third week they had already been gathering, and I thought, “What were you thinking???” Nevertheless, I did it anyway. I was greeted at the door and from there to the sanctuary, I was welcomed at least four times before I took a seat next to a stranger. We ended up making conversation and the next thing I know, I found myself singing Mountain Vespers, which were already near and dear to my heart. It was so special to experience walking into somewhere brand new, not really knowing what to expect, but feeling right at home. After the service, we gathered downstairs to enjoy conversation and treats and I found myself signing up for the LCM fall retreat (with people I had now known for a total of two hours—and by the way, the retreat was a blast)!

I came to Pause hoping to find peace in a time of transition, but I found much more than that. I was welcomed into a community of grace and hope and curiosity. The night I decided to see what LCM was all about, I found something so special that once I found it, I never left.

May you find peace when you need it most and happiness always.

Gretchen Glewwe

Come Now, O Prince of Peace

“Come now, O Prince of Peace, make us one body.  Come, O Lord Jesus, reconcile your people. Come, Hope of Unity, make us one body. Come, O Lord Jesus, reconcile all nations.” –Evangelical Lutheran Worship Book, #247

I have found this song passing through my mind many times throughout this semester, and it seems even more appropriate now in the season of Advent than ever. Both personally and as a part of larger groups, we have felt much brokenness and division lately. Whether this pain stems from political uncertainty or hateful vandalism, we acknowledge our need for healing and unity. While we may tend to look to ourselves for answers or try to ignore the problem, this text points us upward. People are doing amazing and beautiful work to serve others and create bridges between peoples, but we also know that this work can only be perfected and completed through Christ. We turn to God of guidance in work, and God turns to us to do this work, and we rest in the knowledge that someday Christ will in fact “reconcile all nations.” In this season of advent we wait, we long, we hope, and we trust that something beautiful is coming.

Come Lord Jesus.

Written by Julie Wall (LCM Servant Leader)