40 Day Journey with Our Neighbors in Solidarity
Week 6: Lutheran Campus Ministry (LuMin)
Written By: Rachel Nelson – LuMin the Hills (BHSU & School of Mines)
A new student moved into the dorms at the beginning of the school year, leaving their friends and family far away. None of their classmates had chosen this college. They felt so very alone. After a while the person just down the hall became a fixture in their daily life. Together they navigated classes and clubs, and random road trips throughout the Hills, becoming very close friends. The student cherished this new relationship, as well as a few others that were beginning to bloom. The second year on campus brought many new challenges and through it all was the student and their friend, now in the room directly across the hall. In their third year, the two decided to share a campus apartment, along with another of their friends. The three thought of and referred to each other as siblings. The year started off well, but by winter break, the student noticed that their roommates were pulling away. There was a growing distance in their friendship. When the spring semester classes started, the two talked less and less with the student. By spring break the student had decided to move out. The student knew that their room would most likely not be filled this late in the semester, and with the refund from the school for the rest of the semester’s housing, they could pay rent in the new place through at least October. As they were moving, the roommates promised to call and meet up for meals, saying they understood why the student was moving out. The only time the student got a call was one morning at 2:00 for a ride home from the bar. After that the roommates seemingly disappeared. They would run into each other on campus occasionally, but the cherished friendship was gone.
It stings when loved ones leave our lives – whether through life’s circumstances or by choice. In their first few semesters in college, most of the students I work with have experiences similar to the one above. It is a time of upheaval and changes in relationships, both new and old. The student above lost that friendship, but made lots of other new friends – some who are still very close. They had, like every student, some amazing experiences, and some not-so-awesome ones. They felt both loved and betrayed, sometimes at the same time. In the scripture for today, I’ve included verses 18-30, because too often we read about Jesus lovingly washing the feet of his followers and then immediately read about him telling them to love one another. It sometimes seems like it’s only that loving act of foot washing happening, but in the middle bit, we see that it doesn’t go quite that way. Jesus, in the company of friends who were more like family, reveals that one of them will betray him. He washes the feet of the people he loved, even though he knows Judas will betray him. Even though he knows Peter will deny him. Jesus doesn’t just wash their feet and declare everyone should also wash others’ feet. Jesus shows how to be even more loving to each other. Jesus shares his love, unconditionally, amidst the difficulties, pain, and separation. Jesus then tells his disciples in verse 34, “ I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.”
Just as Jesus had offered his love through this humble, necessary service of hospitality to those he knew would betray and deny him, so too, should they offer their love to their community – even if they knew they were serving those who might be considered their enemy. In this, Jesus says that love is not limited to the ones we deem to “deserve” it. Love is a gift to all.
Jesus’ commandment to love one another as he has loved us is often a challenge. Who do you have a hard time loving?
Loving God, thank you for the gift of Your love. Help us to share it with those around us, and help us to know that they are worthy of Your love, and help us to remember that we, too are worthy of Your love.
In Jesus’ time, washing feet was a necessary task at each meal time, as people reclined at the table to eat, and no one wanted foot dirt in their food! What are some things we do today that are necessary, but not particularly well-thought-of? List a few of them, and (using the proper Covid precautions) do them for the people around you.