The beginning of the school year holds such promise! A new adventure or a fresh start provides both new and returning students with opportunities for growth and achievement that can provide us with the sense of hope that is necessary to start our days with enthusiasm. Yet, if we’re honest with ourselves, such times as these also bring the potential for anxiety in the face of uncertainty. In our moments of insecurity, even good and honorable things can be negatively reinterpreted as points of pain and deprivation:
- Evaluation in the classroom and competition in the field of play, intended to provide us with metrics of improvement, become markers of our failure.
- Full calendars, signs of abundance of opportunity for meaningful interaction, become burdensome reminders of our own finitude and the condition of scarcity in creation.
- The Honor Code, intended as a statement of personal integrity and responsibility, becomes a reminder that at the end of it all, we’re on our own.
If the joys of these early days are easy to find, all is well and good. Thankfulness and joyfulness are always wonderfully appropriate postures for life, even in the midst of the most difficult struggles. But what are we to do if all that awaits us only awakens fear within us?
There are two feeding miracles attributed to Jesus and recorded in the Gospels. In both cases the circumstances of the miracles are moments that seemed to be ruled by privation and sadness. The feeding of the 5000 follows on Jesus’ own mournful retreat on the news of the execution of his cousin John the Baptist. Both miracles occur in deserted places far away from the abundance of fertile fields and lively markets. Yet, in the presence of Jesus, who is being revealed to be the God of creation, there is enough for what is needed. The abundance of the miracle reveals Jesus for who he is. The presence of God is evidenced in the sufficiency of creation. Where Jesus is, the paradise which was Eden is revealed and re-encountered, even in the poverty of the wilderness. It is an endless loop of hope, divine presence and abundance.
When we are aware of the gracious presence of God in our lives, we grow more attentive to the abundance of creation. When we attend to the abundance around us, we grow in our appreciation for the pervasive presence of our saving and providing God.
Sometimes we lose sight of this loop or we perceive ourselves to be outside of it all together.
The Chapel of the Resurrection is an unavoidable presence on this campus. It’s on high ground right in the center of campus and stands taller than all of the buildings that surround it. We pray that the presence of this magnificent building will be a constant beacon for you back into the circle of hope, divine presence and sufficient abundance. Standing in the Chapel, facing east, we can’t miss the fantastic stained glass of the Munderloh Windows. In the windows on the left and right symbols of human creativity and service rise from the ground to meet symbols of divine creativity and inspiration. The center window, the one behind the towering cross, is different. All of the images in the central window are of God’s saving work in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. The abundant life of Jesus and his saving presence for us is at the center of it all. Our work, rest and play as our participation in God’s creativity orbit around this life-giving center who is Jesus.
Stop by anytime and be reminded. All will be well.
Aug. 21, 2019