It has been crickets on the newsletter front, friends. The last three months have been a whirlwind as we have settled into our new home in Mount Vernon, OH and I have jumped in the deep end of my new role as
Campus Pastor at MVNU.
I began the job on July 8th with two very unique challenges: populating an entire chapel speaker schedule for the Fall semester and staffing my entire office with new people. It was all-consuming work, but the Lord showed up, leading me to vibrant speakers and brilliant teammates to come alongside me in the Campus Ministries Office.
As preoccupied as I was by those two enormous tasks, along with familiarizing myself with the campus and culture, I did not tackle the lengthy lists of sermons and devotionals I was to give during Lead Week and Welcome Week of the impending semester. Sometimes, you cannot know what needs to be said until you have lived among a people and taken in the lay of the land for a bit.
But, the day finally came when I had to sit down and face the pile of devotionals, services, and sermons to plan and write: 2 devotionals, 5 services, and 4 sermons- all to be given in a 10-day period of time. In what can only be described as sheer horror, I stared at the blank pages before me and did what only the godliest of preachers ever do: I panicked.
I got up and went to the desk of my very-brand-new office coordinator and, with as much grace and dignity as I could muster, said, "I can't do this." Instead of quitting on the spot as would have been her right seeing her leader in such a state, she gently said, "Have you eaten? Why don't you finish your lunch outside, maybe away from you desk?"
Dutifully, I listened and obeyed. I went outside and found some steps in the shade where I could eat my yogurt in some semblance of peace. And wouldn't you know it, the Lord showed up. As I was still for a moment, nourishing my body and breathing deeply, the Spirit stirred in my heart and I knew exactly what the first sermon would be about. I gulped down the rest of the yogurt and sprinted back to the office to write it out.
For the next two weeks, it happened over and over again. The Lord showed up, smack dab in the middle of my need. Toward the end of the marathon that was the first week of the semester, I was so tired and distracted, I crashed my bike on the way home from the office and hit the asphalt face first. I sat at home with a swollen, oozing cheekbone, with nothing but a sermon outline and 12 hours to turn it into a sermon (plus sleep a little...)
But once again...the Lord showed up. The words came freely and, the following morning, I was able to preach a good but challenging word to my new parish- swollen, torn-up cheekbone and all.
"I was pushed hard so that I was falling (literally...off a bicycle),
but the Lord has helped me.
The Lord is my strength and my might;
He has become my salvation."
Everyday in chapel, we pray a simple welcoming prayer, inviting the Triune God to be present among us. We pray aloud,
"There is no place where You are not,
yet we are often unaware of Your presence."
How true it is. The Lord is present among us, yet we are often unaware, consumed as we are by the tasks at hand, the mess occasionally within us and beyond us. I do not wish upon you the whirlwind that has been my first couple of months in this job, nor do I wish upon you a nasty bike crash and face wound. But, I do pray that you have the privilege of facing failure and chaos unless the Lord shows up. May you find the Lord exceedingly faithful.
"The Lord is faithful in all his words, and gracious in all his deeds.
The Lord upholds all who are falling,
and raises up all who are bowed down."
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