The Collect for Epiphany 3 asks for grace so that we may:
- answer the call of Jesus Christ,
- proclaim the Good News of his salvation, and
- perceive the glory of his marvelous works.
So what is Jesus calling us to do?
In the Gospel reading, we have the familiar story of Jesus’ call to his fishermen disciples: “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” Before that, in the same passage, Jesus began to proclaim: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”
Both ideas are pretty amazing.
When Jesus calls to Simon, Andrew, James, and John, they respond by immediately leaving their boat and nets, business and family to follow Jesus. As one who has spent her life struggling with the question of vocation, I am always struck in this passage by the irresistible pull this call provoked. No question of weighing options, counting the costs, determining the safest route. Jesus called and they responded.
So, what about the other call?
When I hear the word “Repent” I invariably think of that familiar cartoon prophet. You know the one–long beard, white robe, carrying a big sign that says “Repent! The End is near!”
Only, in this case, it’s not the end. It’s the beginning.
The kingdom of heaven has come near.
The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light.
For those who sat in the shadow of death, light has dawned.
The Lord is my light and my salvation.
This is the Good News we are called to proclaim–living new lives in the light, repenting of all the ways we have acquiesced to living in darkness. The kingdom of heaven is near. Even now. Even to us. In spite of all the gloom we see in this year of political strife, natural disasters, tragic stories on every side.
The Kingdom of heaven is near. Even now. Even to us. This is the Good News we are called to proclaim.
Thanks be to God.
Jan 26, 2020
Today we celebrate Christ the King Sunday. It is the last Sunday of the long season of Pentecost and the final celebration of our liturgical year. Next Sunday we begin a new year, a new season, as we start our Advent journey toward Christmas. Today we celebrate the kingship of Christ with hymns about royalty, power, and heavenly courts–all of this right before we begin a quiet, contemplative season’s journey to Bethlehem. We talk about Jesus as King today but soon the church and even the secular world around us will be focused on Christ the tiny baby in a manger. Read More
Pentecost 16 (Luke 14:25-33)
Some of us here today have come out of faith traditions that included the practice of an altar call. (If you are a cradle Episcopalian, this may be a somewhat foreign concept to you.) As I remember it, the altar call was a part of the worship service, generally after the sermon and just before the close of the service. The congregation would sing a quiet hymn (i.e. Just as I Am) several times over and anyone who wanted to come to the altar to profess his/her faith could do so. It was a quiet time of prayer where, surrounded by supportive members of the congregation and a welcoming pastor down front, you could almost hear Jesus himself say: “Come unto me.” Read More
Are you a Mary or a Martha? That’s the choice we generally get when faced with today’s Gospel reading–the moral of the story usually being that we should all try to honor our spiritual side and become more like Mary (and by default less like Martha). Or, at the very least, that we should concentrate on being less “worried and distracted” in a world which seems determined to keep us very worried and very distracted. (Again, less like Martha.) Read More
Pentecost 3 (1 Kings 17:8-24 & Luke 7:11-17)
Today we have heard two stories of resurrection. Two widowed mothers who have lost their only sons. Two sons who are restored miraculously and given back to their mothers. Two stories of redemption. Two stories (Old & New Testament) that seem surprisingly alike. And yet two stories with some important differences. Read More
The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up is the title of a lovely little book by a young Japanese author. Currently on the bestseller lists, Marie Kondo’s premise for organizing a household is simple: keep what brings you joy and release the rest.
It’s a great principle for sorting out t-shirts and old books but a little more difficult for me in my current project at the Chapel Center. I am taking advantage of the slow summer months and trying to tackle multiple boxes and file drawers of accumulated paper clutter, some of it kept for the fifty plus years of St Anselm’s existence. Read More
I have really wanted to get a closer look at the little one but I didn’t want to alarm the parents.
Or irritate them, for that matter. I’m not sure that anything really alarms these slow moving birds, but I’ve heard they can get pretty aggressive. Read More
- How should Episcopal ministry be identified and recognized on a university campus?
- A church or the Church? (Traditional parish worship or pop-up gathering?)
- A fellowship? (Yes, but different from a student fraternity or club, right?)
- A Christian fellowship but with a very unique liturgical tradition. (How do we honor that unique tradition in a campus environment?)
Our society usually tends to view campus life just a bit idealistically. Perhaps that is due to the somewhat fuzzy memory of those of us who attended college more than a few years ago. Perhaps it is because college students are generally portrayed in stereotypes in our movies and TV shows. For whatever the reason, we tend to view college life as a time of football games and heavy duty partying, punctuated only by the occasional all night study sessions to cram for a final exam and passing grade. All the privileges and freedoms of adult life without any of the responsibilities and obligations.
A brief survey of campus statistics paints a different picture: Read More
Would you rank campus ministry among the top ten essential programs of the Episcopal Church?
No? And why not?
Where do you think it fits among our church’s ministries and programs?
If you aren’t quite sure, you are certainly not alone. The problem is, as a church I think we don’t quite know what to think about ministry to university students on campus settings.
Campus ministry is not service in the way we usually think of service: feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, or visiting the sick. It is not a defining part of our liturgy, music or tradition. Many of us adults in the church may have had the common experience of attending a Cursillo weekend, but few of us probably share a common experience of participating in Episcopal campus ministry programs during college. One might wonder what it is that Episcopal campus ministries actually do and why are they funded (and by whom)? Why should we provide services to college students? What benefit does it really give them? How does it build up the Body of Christ?
My own memories of campus ministry go back to the early ’70’s when I was a freshman at Florida State University living in an all girls dorm. I had grown up in the Presbyterian church but it was First Baptist that sent a bus to campus on Sunday morning and evening, rounding up those of us who lacked transportation to get to church. There was worship, there was food, and there was a college age choir of 70-80 students. That fall we rehearsed and performed “Celebrate Life,” a hip-and-happenin’ musical based on the life of Jesus. It was glorious.
Did this change my experience of college life? Yes. It made a difference. It mattered.
And that is what campus ministry can and should be doing.
The following is from the Florida United Methodist Campus Ministries website:
How Important is Campus Ministry? Consider these statistics:
- The current generation of college students is the largest since the Baby Boom, but the lowest percentage to grow up in church.
- Approximately 80% of college students have never had significant Church experience.
- More significant life choices (vocation, lifestyle, relationships, spiritual) are made during college than any other stage of life.
- 90% of students who have grown up in the church may never return after graduation.
In the weeks to come, I will be exploring campus ministry in this blog, trying in particular to see what “best practices” are being done and specifically looking at programs like intentional communities and peer ministry. What is it that is working and why? I’m also gathering resources on the Campus Ministry Resources page of this blog: if you can suggest items to add, please let me know.
I invite you to come along for the journey. I think it will be an interesting trip.
In what ways has campus ministry made a difference for you or someone in your family? I’d love to hear from you!