An Invitation to Lent

At LCM, we’re entering into this season, centered on the theme of wilderness. It’s a complicated, multilayered theme, and one that can sustain the journeys that you all will be on together and individually this season. Just as Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness, so we’ll prepare ourselves for his death and resurrection by wandering around together in the wilderness, wondering what God might be making of us. We’re taking care to make space for the hard stuff, while also acknowledging the surprises of beauty, joy, and sustenance that can find us in these wild places. You’ll have the opportunity to tell stories, make art, go on hikes, and serve your neighbor; among many other things, together in community.

Capturing the Light: Seeking God in Photography

Written by Elaine Dorn

Siblings, animals, plants, bugs; anything and everything within reach was the waiting subject of my, perhaps a little over-zealous, snazzy rose gold digital camera that I received as a gift for my eleventh birthday. I loved snapshotting moments in time, catching the giggles of my younger sisters and brother and capturing tiny, everyday things that never failed to put a smile on my face: a roly-poly bug skittering across a blade of grass, the way sunlight peeked through the pine tree in my yard, and baby lambs scampering around the barn. Each of these moments, although small, were the ones that seemed the most impactful and worthy-of-capture to me because they disclosed the beautiful narrative found within simple, perfect moments in life.

Today, I still have that snazzy rose gold camera, even if it’s not my current moment-capturing tool of choice. However, my favorite instances to capture remain the same. I deeply love telling the stories of people, of places, and of the simple things that make the life we live so sweet. One thing I’ve learned, as a photographer, is that no story is too small or too imperfect to be worthy of telling; and I think it’s so incredibly profound in regards to our faith and God.

Personally, it is easy to believe that my story and I are not worthy of being told or noticed; that because I sometimes feel as though I don’t fit in or that I’m not enough, my story and I should just be scooted to the back corner where no one can see. However, as we look through the Bible, the people whose stories are told are just like me. Rarely are they the best of the bunch, the loudest, the brightest, the wisest, or the smartest; they are individuals with plenty of mistakes, insecurities, and struggles. Just because they are imperfect, ordinary people does not mean that God does not use them in absolutely incredible ways. It doesn’t matter if they are as talented as the people surrounding them, or if they feel about as impactful as a roly-poly bug on a blade of grass. God chooses to capture their story, and through it, show people the depth of God’s love. In fact, it is through those imperfections that God does his greatest work (definitely check out 2 Corinthians 12:9). I have found the same to be true, time and time again, as a photographer. It is pretty rare for perfection to tell a good story through photos. However, candid, imperfect moments are the ones that never fail to create a photo that brings delight and joy to a viewer. The same can be said for ourselves. If we allow God to use us in our mess, in our imperfection, and in our candid moments, God can bring life and love to those around us in ways we never thought possible.

Voting as Spiritual Practice

This country needs you, and it needs your vote. This is not the time to be overwhelmed by the options, or to let lethargy take over. I also understand how much that is happening right now, and so we’re making ourselves available to walk alongside you. You are not alone in this. We are not alone in this. Thanks be to God.

How to be Generous, Even When You Feel Empty

I think this a phrase that all college students have said or heard more times than we could count.

Being Real: Self Reflection

As a volunteer for The Aurora Center, I am expected to attend monthly volunteer meetings.

Vision Teams Leaves for Iona in Scotland

Dear LCM community,

I am so excited to write to you all today as part of the 2017 LCM Vision Team, which includes myself and my fearless counterparts: Jonah and Regina. Every year, three students are nominated by their fellow student leaders to identify a growing edge of our LCM community, visit another Christian community to learn about how others approach a similar issue and bring our learnings and thoughts back to our LCM community.

Identifying this growing edge was somewhat of a challenging process for us. We each had different opinions about what aspect of a community and church’s life was most important. We disagreed about what we thought was working well and what we thought could be improved. Through these challenging and hopeful conversations, one theme jumped out; that was that we all experienced our faith differently. In the end, we chose to explore differences in people’s experiences of faith and spirituality through the framework of Corrine Ware’s four spiritual types.

Most of us were first exposed to the idea of “spiritual types” at the LCM winter leader retreat last January. Through informal polling and conversation, we discovered that LCM tends to have individuals of all spiritual types but as a whole, we tend to lean more heavily toward two of the four types (more on all this in blogs to follow!).   As the vision team, we settled on the question of how LCM might make space for people of all types to feel welcome and fulfilled; and how can we as individuals grow by stepping outside our comfort zones and walking alongside those who experience their faith differently than ourselves?

In pursuit of this question, we will be journeying to the island of Iona in Scotland to spend a week with the Iona Christian community, established at a former abbey and monastery. We chose this community because it is comprised of members who live on the island as well as a network of members around the globe who are committed to living their lives following the principles of the group. The community embraces mystery, pioneers new music and ways of worshipping, and is committed to putting their faith in action in the public square.  We are so excited to learn from this community about how we might build a community which can hold diverse spiritual needs, and kinds of religious expression.

Stay tuned at this blog to hear more about how we’re growing and learning as individuals, as well as our hopes and dreams for the formation of our 2017-18 LCM Community at the U!

By Julie Wall

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)

Being Kind to Myself

By Student Servant Leader, Emily Mentz
Lutheran Campus Ministry held its annual fall retreat in Trego, WI during the weekend of October 2-4. From the beginning of classes to the time retreat rolled around, I felt completely spent. The morning before leaving for the weekend, I had what felt like a much needed cry and too much mint chocolate chip ice cream for lunch. I had this recurring thought that I was being spread too thin but also not meeting the expectations I had set for myself all at the same time. It can be so easy for me to become frustrated when I skip a workout to get much needed sleep, or don’t give an assignment the effort it deserves because I take time to call my mom. Therefore, it was fitting that the theme of retreat was the Sabbath and the importance of taking breaks in order to resist a culture that screams at us to continue a productive, fast pace. This intentional retreat time became a great space for me to practice some self-kindness: I wore only my comfiest clothing, drank lots of tea, ate chocolate, and was surrounded by the beauty of creation in the fall and wonderful community. The challenge is continuing to be this gentle with myself now that I’m back to the demands of campus. However, I think little things like comfy scarves, good coffee, and intentional time to slow down to talk with God about what’s on my heart are helping me to keep a better balance. I’m continuing to learn that I cannot always reach the expectations that I set and I cannot please everyone- but I am valued and loved and this spirit was made for more than a frazzled and hurried existence.

Taking Time to Pause

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!!)

Recharging Without Technology

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.

-Dana Rademacher