A message to the Campbell University community from Associate Vice President for Spiritual Life Faithe Beam:
Dear Campbell Community:
Yesterday, I watched church from my living room. The service we usually attend on Sundays is on television, so I appreciated the opportunity to gather with others in this way. I also scrolled through social media and saw service after service taking place from empty sanctuaries and living rooms. Preachers preaching to empty sanctuaries and from their homes as faithful followers gathered together to meet each other and God in new and different ways.
During our service, one of my favorite hymns was “sung,” Praise to the Lord, the Almighty. One of the phrases in the hymn is “ponder anew what the Almighty can do.”
Those words seem more powerful today than ever before.
We are a community of rhythms. The academic year gives us clear beginnings and endings along with the routines of the day and semester. As we make adjustments to our rhythms as a community, I am reminded that we enter a part of the semester where students are preparing to present research, getting ready for senior art exhibits and music recitals, anticipating concerts, athletes completing or starting a season, internships and rotations, and many ready to experience the “lasts” of traditions and events as they prepare to graduate.
Our rhythms are now changed, and there is a sense of loss and concern about what’s next for our students, for us and for our community. These are surely unprecedented and uncertain days for all of us.
As I have reflected on what I observed Sunday in the creative and innovative ways people of faith found to gather and worship, it is a powerful example of solidarity. Even with an underlying sense of concern and fear of what is unknown, solidarity was and is found in God, our Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer.
Our God is one of solidarity. The one who came in flesh, Emmanuel—God with us, the one whose love for us was demonstrated on a cross, and the one who is with us even when we can’t seem to see or feel God’s presence. God does not watch from a distance. God meets us in our places of disruption and uncertainty. God is with us.
The psalmist knew something about the solidarity of God whose presence is with us wherever we are:
Where can I go from your spirit?
Or where can I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there;
if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.
If I take the wings of the morning
and settle at the farthest limits of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me fast.
If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light around me become night’,
even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is as bright as the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
Even as we are faced with social distancing and the possibility of isolation, I pray we continue to find solidarity with one another as we experience the touch of care and love in different and new ways. I pray we can show and allow ourselves to experience the solidarity of God who climbs in the darkest places with us and holds us close.
May we, this day, “ponder anew what the Almighty can do.”