“I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you.” (Philippians 1:3)
Cast your mind back, if you can, to a sunny September weekend on the shores of Lac MacDonald where we began our year together on retreat thinking about worship, mission, and how we respond to the world as Christians. We concluded that weekend together by each taking three index cards and reflecting on three questions for the year ahead: What is a practice that gets in the way of following God and participating in our common life? What is a practice in our community that orients me towards God? And what is a practice I’ll commit to for the year ahead in our community?
Like New Year’s resolutions and Lenten disciplines, commitments like these are easy to forget. While it’s true that I’ve had my index cards on the bulletin board above my computer since we returned from retreat, there have been more than a few times this year when I’ve caught sight of them and realized with a start how far off track I had come. But I can also point to times when I’ve seen those index cards and been reminded of the helpful conversations we had to start our year together.
As the academic year comes close to its conclusion, it is natural to look back over the year that has been. I do so with a single overriding emotion: gratitude. I’m grateful for the community of worship and prayer we’ve formed here; for the learning I’ve seen take place in classrooms, chapel, around the meal table, and many other places; for the infectious energy and enthusiasm that our students bring to their callings to ministry; for the way I’ve seen students grow as leaders and Christians; for the hard work of so many staff members who labour to keep this place running; for the ways I’ve seen members of this community encounter struggles and challenges in grace-filled and holy ways; and so, so much more.
If we were handing out index cards again, I might hand out four. The three questions we asked in September can be modified for these next months. As you move towards the summer and, for some, out of this college, what have you found helpful in this community that orients you towards God? What have you found unhelpful that you would like to leave behind? What is a practice you can commit to for the summer ahead? And, finally, because gratitude and thanksgiving are at the heart of the Christian faith, what are you grateful for in the year past?
This message was written by College Principal Jesse Zink for this week’s Wingèd Ox, a weekly news digest distributed to the college community.