A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend an interfaith service and dinner with the Jewish student group on campus called MN Hillel. This is an annual event hosted by Hillel in which they invite students from Christian groups across campus to come learn about them and their practices, and share a meal and service together to build inter-campus community among faith groups who may not normally interact.
In keeping with our values of service, justice, curiosity, and integrity, LCM-TC is headed to Albuquerque, NM to serve and learn alongside the Pueblos of New Mexico, and the indigenous people who have lived there for millennia. We hope to extend the learning of our student vision team about how spirituality, art and culture contribute to resilience in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.
We understand this as an extension of who we are as a community of faith, and hope that if you decide to spend your spring break learning and serving with LCM, you’ll also engage with our racial justice work on campus, and that you’ll participate in learning about Native issues in the North both before and after our time together in Albuquerque (we’ll do this together, no worries!).
We’ll spend 5 nights in Albuquerque during spring break (March 11-16), and the total cost to you will be your plane ticket (right now they’re running $400-$550), and a $50 deposit. The sign up deadline is January 30th, but there is a 15 person cap, and plane tickets are likely to go up quickly.
Peace to you today…
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.
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.
For those of you who do not know, I am studying abroad in Haifa, Israel for this semester! While it is super exciting and such a new life experience, I was missing part of home; my church life. So, last Sunday, my friend and I decided to finally check out a local Episcopal church in Haifa, which was about 40 minutes away by bus from the University. It took us a few wrong turns, and checking in random places, but we finally found the church when we noticed a priest walking into the chapel. At first, when we arrived, we were the only two people in the sanctuary so we were a little worried this was not the correct location, but the priest and the organist greeted us warmly right away, making us feel comforted. After we took our seats, the priest came over with the English translations of the readings for that day and also the Order of the Liturgy, because the service would mainly be in Arabic, and he explained the service very thoroughly so we knew what to expect.
As more people started shuffling in, just about everyone in the congregation (25 or so) came up and greeted us, asking us questions about where we were from and what we were doing in Haifa. You could tell they all loved having visitors and were genuinely interested in our stories.
As the service started with the opening hymn, I just stood and listened to the beauty of the music and admired this quaint church. The service was interesting in and of itself because it was a harmonious blend of Arabic and English; half of the prayers were in Arabic, the other in English, we said the congregational responses collectively in both languages, and then all of the hymns were in Arabic. The organist even translated the sermon for us as it was given, so that we too could hear the priest’s wonderful message of loving thy neighbor, and putting our faith in God even through our hardest trials.
Near the end of the service, the priest actually had us introduce ourselves to everyone, and adamantly invited us to have coffee and treats with them afterwards. During the coffee hour where we filled up on delicious coffee, harissa (an Arab pastry), and cookies, the priest once again welcomed and thanked us for joining them that morning, and what he said to us next was truly heartwarming: he said that we were always welcome, that we could consider St. John’s our church home while in Haifa and they would help us with anything we needed in getting acclimated to the city. We had only spent an hour and a half with these strangers practically, yet they had opened their doors and arms to us, and made us feel as comfortable and at home as possible.
Last Sunday was such an excellent example of how to show genuine hospitality towards others, and it got me to truly think about what I think hospitality should look and feel like, and how I will show others this same kindness. I urge you all to also reflect on this, and whether you see a new or old face at church, to treat everyone with kindness and to make everyone feel welcome in our community.
Even though I couldn’t understand the service fully due to the language barrier, I knew that this church was living out God’s commandment to love thy neighbor to the fullest. It was one of the loveliest things to see, that around the world and in all types of communities and languages, God’s love continues to be shared and extends to the edges of the Earth.
For those of you who may not have heard, the LCMers took a pilgrimage of sorts to Holden Village over spring break. Holden is a Christian retreat center tucked away in the North Cascades in central Washington. The village receives most of its guests in the summer months, but a small community remains year-round to enjoy and maintain the village.
We spent our week at Holden helping out with whatever work needed to be done around the village, which included installing plumbing, doing housekeeping work, cooking, garbage duty, shoveling, peeling logs, etc.
In our free time, we ate, went hiking and snowshoeing, ate, worshiped, ate, enjoyed the sauna, and ate some more!
One of the unique aspects of Holden is the emphasis placed on rest, on leisure, on enjoying those basic things in life which are easy to overlook in today’s society. Many of us were reminded of how life-giving it is to slow down, take a deep breath, and enjoy the life God has given each of us.
After a few days of this relaxed, stress-free lifestyle, you can imagine how sad we all were to leave this sanctuary of tranquility. The idea of returning to our hectic lives as students was hard to imagine. How could we possibly leave this calm, restful place and go back to the stress of college life?
After about a week of being back on campus with all the bustle and obligations, I realized that the peace we experienced at Holden wasn’t locked away in the mountains. It wasn’t the physical environment, but rather the intention that allowed us to find rest and enjoy life. We can experience a similar – if not less extreme – life of peace simply by setting aside the time to do so. By intentionally creating a time and space for those life-giving, breathtaking moments, we can all experience life the way God meant us to.