So I’m a little behind on my reflection this week. It’s been a busy week and I also wanted more time to think and write.
The last few weeks at the university have gotten me thinking about how we are called to witness to and be present to the campus community. I’ve been to conversations about race and hate-groups in the US and I’ve been in conversation with lots of folks about what is the church and the nature of ministry in this current social climate, and while I certainly have no answers, I have a couple of thoughts that have brought me consolation.
The first is that we are called to be bridge builders. One of the Latin titles for the Pope is “Pontifex maximus,” the biggest bridge builder. While I have a lot to say about the pontificate (that’s a totally different subject) I do love the image that his title include building bridges, and I think that we are all called to that ministry. In many ways the ministry of reconciliation that Jesus gave us as his followers: to make connections and bring people together. Long before the current controversies about walls (again, that’s another subject) our culture has encouraged us to build walls between each other and even in ourselves. Even so-called “social media” for the most part builds walls by putting a screen between you and the person you’re reaching out to. There are certainly beneficial walls, but so often they just keep other people, ourselves, and God at arm’s length and don’t allow us the intimacy and connectivity that enriches human life. But I am consoled watching here on campus and in our society as so many walls are falling, and so many bridges are being built.
The other source of consolation is the reminder I got from Isaiah last Sunday that “those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” Getting discouraged in our faith life is inevitable, getting weary is part of the human condition. This winter has really gotten me down. The grey clouds and the just-enough-snow-to-make-life-hard has bummed me out. But even on tough days, all I have to do is “Lift up [my] eyes on high and see:” the One who is never faint or weary, the One who upholds me. It doesn’t take away the discouragement or make me less bummed, but looking to God does remind me that it is not my burden alone. Just as a passerby, Simon of Cyrene, helped Jesus carry his cross, and the apostles helped Jesus carry the burden of his ministry, Jesus can help me carry my load on the tough days. He’s not carrying for me, but with me.
It is everyone in our lives, those who are Jesus to us, who are helping with our burdens. For me, it’s the students coming out to watch a basketball game, the board working hard on listening to where God is calling us next, the staffs of the Diocese and Synod making sure that the ground is laid for ministry, my wife and extended family that encourages me to keep going even on the hardest days. These are bridges and these are the folks who helped me carry the load today. Who is helping you today? Where are your bridges Count them as a blessing, and give thanks to God for them.