When was the last time you received – I mean really received – a blessing? This was a question posed by Mark Yaconelli at the APCE (Association of Partners in Christian Education) Annual Event being held in St. Louis, MO, this week. I’m not able to attend this year in person, so I caught his first plenary via livestream yesterday. Mark is a gifted storyteller (which is why he wrote a great book about it Between the Listening and the Telling), and shared a beautiful story about Henri Nouwen being asked by a woman in his L’Arche community to give her a blessing, and at the end of that story he asked a slightly different question….”When was the last time you allowed yourself to receive a word of love from God?”
I once asked a group of UKirk ministers what they want their students to know by the time they graduate, and one campus minister said, “I just want them to know that God loves them. Really loves them.” This is the core of why we do what we do, isn’t it? To share God’s love in Jesus Christ with students, and journey with them as they find their identity as wholly beloved people made in the very image of God. An identity that will center them during joy and difficulty, will form their view of themselves and the world, and will inspire their work and service.
I want you to remember that day in and day out, this is your primary identity, too. It is the truth of who you are, and it is the well upon which you draw as you share cups of God’s grace, love, peace and forgiveness with your students, community, family, and, most importantly, yourself.
I pray that this week, you carve out some space to pause and dwell in God’s presence, and allow yourself to hear God whisper to you, “You are my beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”
Peace and blessings,
PS – If you are at APCE this week, be sure to go by the Christian Formation Collective booth in the marketplace to grab a UKirk sticker, and find UKirk National board members Maggie Alsup, Bill Buchanan, Sandra Moon and Michelle Scott-Huffman and say hello!)