This is my fourth year as the college/young adult ministry intern at Harrisonburg Baptist Church, and during the majority of that time, we have had college lunches. To me, and I hope to everyone else, these lunches have done more than just feed students, but have allowed students to experience what it’s like for people not their age and likely not people with whom they would interact on a daily basis to open up their home for part of an afternoon and serve them.
Cultivating a healthy intergenerational environment between college students/young adults and members of other generations, both older and younger, is essential to have a healthy church, and I get as much out of these lunches as I hope everyone else is getting. We are in our 3rd or 4th year now of these lunches, and have probably been doing our lunch/discussion format–same place every week–for probably a year or less overall. It is great seeing these lunches become something really special. Whatever outer layer of awkwardness of being in someone else’s home, using their bathroom, wondering if you’ve tracked any dirt onto their carpet, etc., originally existed, it has since given way to laughter around the lunch table and many bags of leftovers to take home. It is a couple of hours each week to truly sit together, eat together, and talk about Jesus–a beautifully simple and filling thing, and I think one of everyone’s favorite parts of the week.
Assoc. Campus Minister
Lord make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy
O divine master grant that I may
not so much seek to be consoled as to console
to be understood as to understand
To be loved as to love
For it is in giving that we receive
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it’s in dying that we are born to eternal life
– a prayer attributed to St. Francis of Assisi
Every year the date comes around and every year I remember the tragedy of 9/11/01. Without fail, all the memories of the day flood back. I have to admit that some are fuzzy while others are as crystal. It was the last period of the day and I was sitting in my eighth grade Science classroom, two columns from the door, in the third seat back. Attendance in the room was low because others had been called out of previous classes throughout the day, but there was another boy named Steve sitting in front of me.
After a few minutes of minimal conversation and zero teaching, the teacher began a somber monologue about what had been going on that day. He then turned on the old bubble television in the corner and we watched as the news channel covered the three crashes and the subsequent disastrous aftermath. Aside from the low drum of the news, the room was silent. One more student was called out while we all sat in a muddled puddle of confusion, fear, wonder, anger, and disconcertment.
I don’t remember what my teacher said. I don’t remember what my parents said when they sat my siblings and I down later that night. I don’t remember the student’s name who was called out of the classroom in eighth period. What I do remember is thinking I should pray, so, I did. However, I didn’t know what to pray. I sank into the depths of my thoughts, scrounging for something familiar and profound.
I found nothing. I simply prayed, “Lord. I don’t know what to pray, but you know what I’m thinking. Just… formulate the words I need.”
Now, every year, I find this prayer comforting and fulfilling. I pray it over and over again and search the depth of the words each time. I pray you, too, find some comfort and guidance in these words attributed to St. Francis of Assisi. I pray you are the instrument the Lord plays to bring peace. I pray you are the seed the Lord sows to love when there is hatred and anger; forgiveness when there is only thought of retribution; light when reality is covered in shadow; and hope when there seems no promise for good.
We’re back… from Summer camps, classes, beach weeks, road trips, work, sleeping in, staying up late with old friends, and everything else we try to squeeze into those few months between the joyfully mournful Finals Week and the mournfully joyful Welcome Week. I pray you were able to find rest and be present with those around you this past Summer.
This year, we’re focusing on Covenant with God. We’re starting allllll the way back with Abraham and moving through Jacob, Moses, David, Isaiah, up to Jesus as a “new” Covenant. It’s a very exciting time to be a part of BCM@JMU. We have an amazingly gifted and reverent Leadership Team. We’re bringing on an Associate Campus Minister who’s been a long-time friend of the ministry. We have a growing campus and thousands upon thousands of students who need a fresh, experiential relationship with Christ. It makes me giddy to just think about how BCM@JMU will continue to be the hands and feet of Christ here!
Proverbs 17:22 says “A cheerful heart is a good medicine, but a downcast spirit dries up the bones” (NRSV). There is so much to be joyful about for this year, which makes it easy to have a “cheerful heart.” However, there is also a lot of pain in the world (and in our own hearts), anxiety in our minds, and spiritual need on our campus that can bring us to our knees. In those times, we are often told to find the silver lining and simply fake it ’til we make it seem likely we’re happy. We’ve decided, or been taught to, pray for the incoming storms on the horizon to pass by. This sort of mentality was always the one my dad tried to empower me to embrace the gritty pain in training for athletics by telling me to never be a “fair-weather athlete.”
Vivian Greene has a famous motivational quote saying “Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, it is about learning to dance in the rain.” I don’t believe this proverb asks us to go through the motions until we get to a happy place. I don’t believe it is as simple as being “cheerful” instead of “downcast.” I think it emboldens us to live like we believe, rain or shine, God is in constant relationship with us. We have the choice to pray for the storm to have never come or we can join God and “dance in the rain.”
Welcome to our page! We’re in the process of updating/rebuilding what this looks like, so please share some much needed grace. We will soon begin to share news about upcoming events, Family Groups, Thursday Night 6:19s (this is our weekly worship time), and some thoughts we’ve been mulling over each week. Check back in with us each week to see what’s been happening and how you can plug in!
Campus Minister for BCM@JMU