Scripture Reflections

April 23: Thursday of the Second Week of Easter

Posted by Campus Ministry on April 23, 2020 at 6:04 AM PDT

 A hand is open with some seeds in the palm.

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As I read today’s readings, I am struck by the Apostles' courage. After a resurrected Jesus appeared to them, they were filled with a sense of tenacity and drive that inspired confidence in them, despite the many risks and uncertainties in their time. They were under watch by the high priests who sought any wrong move the Apostles might make. The high priests expected crucifying Jesus to be the end to their problems, yet instead, something had changed greatly. The power in seeing the resurrected Jesus gave the Apostles hope, trust and, more importantly, peace. No longer was the presence of Jesus restricted to his human body! The resurrection demonstrated to the Apostles a promise of liberation, a promise of a new life, and a promise that, no matter what, Jesus remained with them always. The Apostles’ transformation made me reflect upon the power of the resurrection for today. The Apostles demonstrate the great strength from God that comes in the promise of peace. This promise fills them with the sort of courage that is important to focus on in our present context.

How can we exhibit and inspire courage among those around us? How can we be inhabitants and deliverers of peace? There is much uncertainty, fear and distrust currently, but Jesus has risen from the dead, and his presence remains with us! We have received the same promise of liberation and peace as the Apostles, and there is proof of it present in the goodness that remains in the world, in the kindnesses of our neighbors, in the sunshine, in the small moments of peace. I feel that today’s scriptures are calling us in a special way to extend that peace to others, to bring the joy and hope of the resurrected Jesus to those who are in most need of it, even if we may not feel it very strongly on our own. It is crucial to depend on each other now, in a similar way to how the Apostles relied on each other for courage. The strength of community encourages everyone to share in the experiences of uncertainty and anxiety trusting that together, through the power of the resurrected Jesus, we can become agents of hope and liberation, just like the Apostles before us. It is reminding each other of the promise of the resurrection that brings us closer to God and each other during difficult times. Amid the anxiety in our time, there is the promise of joy. How can we be agents of peace and courage? How do we need the power of resurrection to be present in our lives and our world?

 

 

–Tayz Hernandez, Student Campus Minister for Liturgy, Class of 2021

April 22: Wednesday of the Second Week of Easter

Posted by Campus Ministry on April 22, 2020 at 6:04 AM PDT

 A flock of birds over a stand of trees set against an overcast sky.

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“Go…and tell the people everything about this life.” There is no stopping the Spirit of God.

I find today's first reading quite humorous, mostly because it goes into such detail! As I read the passage, I imagine the apostles escaping from their jail cell, walking out through the doors, seemingly right in front of the guards. The next day, totally unbeknownst to them, the guards are standing in front of a jail cell that is empty! When the court officers report back that the apostles are missing, everyone seems bewildered. In the meantime, the apostles are wasting no time sharing the good news with the people of the town.

There is no stopping the Spirit of God. God wants to get the message out and is not going to be thwarted by the powers that be who try to keep the words of liberation at bay. The first few words of our Gospel story are some of the most well-known lines in the Bible. God so loved the world. Perhaps this is what the apostles were proclaiming to the people in the temple area. The Resurrection reveals that God didn’t, and still doesn’t, respond to us with vengeance or disappointment, but with great love. This love is magnanimous and abundant. It is a love that moves us and awakens us. And this love finds its way to the far reaches of our world and the far reaches of our hearts. There is no one who remains outside of God’s embrace.

The depth and breadth of God’s love brings about new life. It is a life lived in the light. And it’s true, the darkness can pervade our hearts. It can turn us away from living as the people God calls us to be. Yet, through God’s help, and not solely on our own doing, we keep turning towards the light. We are on a journey where we are always becoming. We let God transform us, freeing us from the darkness that grips us, so that we may be formed as disciples ever willing to be an instrument of, and witness to, God’s grace.

God so loves the world, and God loves the world through us. We are the Body of Christ, meaning that God’s love is experienced tangibly through our expression of love, compassion, encouragement, and care. The psalmist proclaims, “The Lord hears the cry of the poor.” We are called to hear and respond to those most in need. In his book, Tattoos on the Heart, Fr. Greg Boyle writes, “God is compassionate, loving kindness. All we’re asked to do is to be in the world who God is” (62).

May we today, continue to open ourselves towards that which offers light and life. May we today, be bearers of light for those who cry out in need. May we recognize that we don’t travel this path of discipleship alone, but that we do so with each other and with God by our side.

 

Megan Kush, Campus Minister for Pastoral Care 

April 21: Tuesday of the Second Week of Easter

Posted by Campus Ministry on April 21, 2020 at 6:04 AM PDT

A bee is perched on a yellow and red flower.

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We look back on this description of the community in Jerusalem as idyllic. “The community of believers was of one heart and mind." So difficult to imagine! It is rare that in even our own selves we experience perfect coherence between our hearts and minds! There is a famous expression: the longest journey is between the head and the heart. It sounds like the members of the early Christian community were making this journey.

This bears scrutiny, especially in this time when so many people have such urgent needs—in the essential areas of life: health care, food, work and safety. The early Christians shared the needs evenly, some people giving up their possessions and privilege to make sure others had what they needed. Their premise was that there is always enough for all. Let’s be honest: this community did believe that, within their lifetimes, Christ would return to transform their lives. It took a while for folks to reflect on the truth that the Christian community would go on beyond their own lives and that, in fact, their lives were already transformed by the resurrection.

This paradox of the ‘already and not yet’ is why the early Christian community still inspires us. The love they shared translated into the sharing of what was essential—food, safety, shelter—even when they didn’t know what the future would bring. Our commitment to following Christ is a commitment to the journey between the head and heart. Out of an abundance of love, the early Christians sacrificed their own needs to share with each other. We can follow their way right now, each of us experiencing the sacrifice in a different way. For some it is the sacrifice of isolation, for others, money, direct service to the sick and suffering, giving time with those who are lonely, advocacy to our elected officials for those most in need... We, like the early church, do this not for ourselves, in the end, but for an unknown future lived in hope and faith in the resurrection and the promise of new life.

 

 

Tammy Liddell, Director of Campus Ministry

April 20: Monday of the Second Week of Easter

Posted by Campus Ministry on April 20, 2020 at 6:04 AM PDT

a view of a body of water between mountains on a dark and cloudy evening

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Sometimes it’s hard to keep the faith in times such as these, as we bear witness to all that is happening around us.  Sometimes it’s hard to believe in God when it feels like COVID keeps winning. Stuck at home yet again, another zoom call, another class lecture interrupted by janky wifi, another bowl of frosted flakes, another bored child or sibling wanting us to entertain and keep their attention, another paper or email I have to write when I can’t seem to focus.  And worse yet, another job lost, another life lost, and health professionals and essential employees risking their lives. Real people, real families, not just news reports.  Another, another, another.  And yet, in the midst of all this uncertainty and for many of us, our very ordinary and monotonous existence, there are signs of God’s activity and presence in the world and there is hope.  What I am suggesting, then, is that it is possible for us as people of God to hold the tension of belief and unbelief, of sorrow and joy, of despair and hopefulness. Like the father who asks Jesus to heal his demon-possessed child in Mark chapter 9, we cry out to Jesus, Lord, we believe, help our unbelief!

Maybe some of us are like Nicodemus who we learn about in today’s reading, in the third chapter of John’s Gospel. Nicodemus who recognizes that Jesus comes from God and is with God because he has performed so many signs and wonders, this Nicodemus who still has many doubts.  Many of us have approached this idea of God with a certain level of skepticism and our belief and faith waxes and wanes as life has had its way with us, as we deal with the profundities of life. Sometimes it seems like God is active and present, as Nicodemus seems to offer us, but other times it feels like we are all alone. It doesn’t make sense. What does it mean to be born again? How can I be born twice? No no, what does it really mean?  What difference does being born again make in my life and the lives of those who believe?

Some of us approach God in our dark nights of the soul because we want to believe and perhaps like Nicodemus the Pharisee, with all our learning and education, we question the Lord and we doubt.  Or perhaps under the cloak of darkness, we admit there may be something to this Jesus, something that feels right, that stirs our spirit to belief and action, but we are too ashamed to share with our friendship groups, our family, and our classmates that there is something real here. Certainly, this Jesus must come from God.  We know Jesus is God, in fact, but we are too ashamed to say we are Christians. Some of us don’t want to use that phrase “born again” with all its negative connotations of fundamentalism and right-wing beliefs, of keeping gay folks in the closet and women chained to the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant. We don’t want to be associated with those types of born-again believers.

But to be born again means we set aside preconceived notions of who gets in the Kingdom and who doesn’t. Being born again means we set-aside human labels that we ascribe to others who we don’t like, or who we blame, or who we don’t want to help. Being born again is a spiritual rebirth that is not subject to any human sense of time or place and to me that is good news because it means at any moment, we can accept God’s invitation. It means that no matter how many times we mess up or how often we have doubts about where God is in the midst of all this chaos, we can also have hope. We always have a fresh start, we are always renewed, and our faith will always be deepened if we trust in God.  Being born again in the spirit doesn’t seem to make sense, but neither does God’s unending, far-reaching, and deep love for us. And so on today I pray that through our spiritual rebirth God’s grace and transformative love would spread throughout this world through our actions, thoughts, and deeds.

 

 

Rev. Victoria Carr-Ware, Ecumenical and Multifaith Campus Minister 

Second Sunday of Easter (Sunday of Divine Mercy)

Posted by Campus Ministry on April 19, 2020 at 6:04 AM PDT