I was walking on a beach once when I saw a torn-up Styrofoam cup. I noticed the trash only as I was walking by it, so by the time I had processed the information into a potential plan of action - like throwing it away - it was easy to say, "Oops, my bad. I'll get the next one next time."
If that is as far as my thinking had gone, however, I would not be telling you this story because this story would not be distinct from any of a thousand moments like it in my life. I am telling you this story because this moment was distinct: a few steps later, I stopped, looked back, and decided that the next time was now.
That sounds too impressive - pretentious, even. You need to know - as I share in another post - that I only acted in that moment because of the seamless witness of my wife and the effect she has had on me over time. What I was tempted to celebrate as a moral achievement was a practice that came to her as second nature.
I find that life is like this, though: that many times I imagine myself moving on something like a moving airport walkway and at such a speed that does not allow me to act on the things I see only too late. In my Christian walk, I have experienced forgiveness as, among other things, the permission to step off the moving sidewalk and go back to seize the next time now.
I want to talk to you just now about the next time for your supporting a university student - or many university students! - and campus ministries, and to encourage you to seize the next time now.
Once upon a time, these students were the babies and young children you celebrated in your home churches, at their baptisms. That day, with the gathered Assembly - you promised to "do all in your power to support these persons in their life in Christ." You did support them. You encouraged them; taught them Sunday School. You prayed for them on Sunday morning as they graduated high school, and again a few months later as you prayed God's blessing on the adventures ahead. Even now, you love them.
Where are they now? I don't ask this because you've lost track of them. No, I ask because I know you know exactly where they are. They are around you, before you, no less dear to you than the day you sent them out. I ask because the moving airport sidewalk - theirs and yours - is so very fast. And sometimes the best thing we can give one another is the permission to step off of it and toward the place where our holy intention becomes the place of godly action.
Our students need your godly action.
Here is a video that I appreciate for the voice it gives to the tremendous role you occupy in the flourishing of university students in the Body of Christ. I share it with you with the encouragement that 1) yes, Christians in college exist - even Episcopalians! - and 2) your reaching out in support of them and the ministers on their campuses is one of the greatest gifts you can give the Church, to speak into the silence, to renew your own soul, to claim the next time now.
You are Vital from Greg Richards on Vimeo.