Weekly Reflection (NEW!)
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It is hard to believe that I have been in this call as campus pastor for one academic year. I have said good bye to many people for the summer and perhaps to some for a much longer time. As I look back I remember how overwhelmed and clueless I felt in the beginning. There is still much about the position that eludes me such as how one chaplain finds out about a deadline for a publication or how another was able to organize some event on campus. Slowly I am becoming privileged to such insider information. It is all a process.
Process is what much of life is all about. Many of you are in the process of working towards a degree. Do you remember learning how to ride a bike, a skateboard, or skates? I'm sure that it took practice. You probably started out with one of those four-wheeled toddler toys that you pushed around with your feet, and then you upgraded to a tricycle or big wheel. Next came the real bike with training wheels. One day you or one of your parents announced that the training wheels were coming off.
At first you were probably wobbly on your bike, but soon with practice you gained more confidence and skill. I'm sure that for most of us it wasn't long before we were racing around and trying to jump ramps we had set up. It was a difficult skill to learn, but you went through the process. Most of us stop at a certain level of proficiency, but others may go on to racing or stunt bikes. They keep increasing their skills. They continue in the process.
Do you know what I have discovered this season? Easter is a process. Read Mark 16:8. The women went to the tomb to finish the burial preparations and found an angel where the body of Jesus should have been. The angel tells them point blank, "Jesus has been raised!" Terror and amazement seizes them and they don't say anything to anyone. They did not come to Easter faith. In the Gospel of John, Mary Magdalene tells the disciples of her encounter with Jesus near the tomb, but they stay locked up in the upper room because they are afraid. Jesus appears to them on Easter evening and speaks peace to them.
A week later they are still in the upper room with the doors shut. They still don't have that Easter faith. Jesus appears to them again and again speaks peace to them. They still don't have Easter faith. A few days later they are out fishing! Jesus has just risen from the dead, and they are fishing. Jesus again appears to them and cooks the disciples breakfast. For nearly 50 days Jesus appears to them telling them the good news that God loves you in life, in death, and through death into life again. The disciples had to be convinced. They had to go through the process of coming to an Easter faith.
The same is true for all of us. Our Easter faith (that way of living life in service to others with out any fear of death) waxes and wanes. Our faith and the strengthening of it is a process. How then do we know if we are within or without the faith? It is in the striving to be faithful. It is in the seeking out means by which to grow your faith. It is in the returning to God's Word and prayer. It is in the opening of one's eyes to the needs of others around you. Faithfulness is in the process of being faithful.
Philippians 2:12 tells us to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. This is certainly true because you are not dealing here with some self-help book. This is no ordinary support group. This is none other than the same powerful faith that brought again to life our Lord Jesus Christ. So have fear and do tremble not because God is "going to get you," but because God is going to alter your life and radically transform you. Even as Jesus appeared again and again to the disciples until they came to Easter faith, so too will Jesus Christ appear to you again and again until you can confess with Doubting Thomas, "My Lord and my God!"