Thursday, February 02, 2006

Those to whom Jesus beckons

A conversation today with a college ministry rep was very enlightening. He was speaking of one of his college groups that he'd come to know more and more over the past year.

The group has no real take-charge leader personality. Most of the ethnic clubs that one would associate with the Orthodox Church at this particular university are much larger than the religiou campus ministry. Further, those who do come are basically, well to put it nicely, a pack of disenfranchised. There are the couple of nerd leaders who kept it going without a leader. Not well-spoken. There are another few. A recent immigrant who mostly speaks of his terrible sinful nature and his near-suicidal tendencies - mostly in very broken English. There is an old lady who thought it was the Bible Study of the priest-in-charge (himself just responding to the non-involvement of other local priests). She's not in college, doesn't understand even now what the organization is, and has no real social ties at all. There is a catholic who finds it interesting but is visibly autistic. What a collection!

But, while my friend admitted that this wasn't his vision for the college ministry at first, he now says unabashedly "I wouldn't trade them for anyone."

I think this kind of thing is normal. So often we're concentrated on converting the learned, the established - those who can dialogue with us and who we think of at some intellectual level as our equals.

But in my experience most (not all but...) of the 'cool crowd', especially at a time like college, has no use for Jesus. Not only might he make them look at the world a different way, but he might even seek to tweak their lifestyles! Nah, the cool ones have studies to do, beer to abuse, women/men to sleep with - no time for this religious crap right now. Alas, while we're ever open to the few who change their minds, it bothers me less and less to think of myself as one day being the apostle to the geeks.

Although I might never have met this description in college, at times in my life I undoubtedly was in their number. And who am I anyway? I've chosen a path of less pay, less recognition, and more on-guard casual friendships. I've chosen to try and cooperate with the ministry of Christ. To seek the lost, to die to myself, and to let Christ live within me.

My friend is right - here are the followers of Christ. These are the ones who can hear Christ openly. Here are the ones who have not necessarily succeeded in the system as it stands - These are the ones who might think that another way is exactly right. It's hard to question the status quo when it's been so good to you; when you're at the top of the pile. But when you've been rejected and when the social Pharaoh's lord it over you, then you can put yourself more easily into the biblical story.

I came to seminary mostly on a faith jump. I'd never visited, I'd never been involved in the larger ORthodox world, and I fund it with a collection of borrows, begs, and gifts. Yet I rejoice daily, even in my more disillusioned moments, that so many people have been put into my life. I've learned that there are other ways, and that I wasn't priest material when I arrived, simply needing my pre-dispositions confirmed. I've learned that we don't have an answer for everything, but moreover I've learned what faith is. It's not necessarily the conclusion to logical deductions as I once thought - it's a choice of the spirit, who blows where he will. The Spirit who will be present when he will be present, and will be abscent when he will be abscent.

Lastly, I've learned that I'm not alone. I've learned that even in the least holy and sinful times there are those with the vision. Those who will live the dire charge of Christ to share in his death, and then share in his life - and not vice-versa. I have learned that I am not the pinnacle of Christian life, and I've learned how much goodness can flow when faith is taken seriously. I've learned to submit to the corporate prayers and to let them judge my own. I've learned to sing the songs of my people, and that their problems are my problems, just as my problems are their problems.


Blogger FBaulino/a said...

Acordei, com a terrível sensação de estar mesmo a precisar de me deitar, penso porque será. Não é de ter a vista cansada de certeza. Ou então até pode ser. Passeie por todas as avenidas da cidade, desde as das montras, ate ás das drogas, passando pelo sexo em saldo, a mim pareceram-me todas iguais, não tirei a cabeça do chão, eram iguais entre elas, parecidas ás de Lisboa, que por sua vez são quase iguais ás de Odivelas. Para quem olha para o chão, acaba por parecer tudo igual. Mas não o é. Não vale a pena olhar para cima, é mais interessante imaginar. Enquanto que a calçada, quando a é, tem sempre um mistérios por resolver, uma ponta de véu por aventurar. A curiosidade mata-me, estou cansado, vou-me não levantar

5:08 PM  

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