May Report from Pastor Brenda

One of the things I love most about pastoring is getting to walk alongside people in their faith journeys. I am honoured that people are willing to share their struggles with me, and I am thankful that I can be an encouragement in the middle of the questions and the challenges that life can bring.

Another thing I love about what I do is looking at the Bible with others, including difficult texts like the book of Judges. When we started reading it this past semester, I wasn’t sure how encouraging or applicable it would be. Yet, fairly quickly we saw how the text reveals how God uses the unexpected people around us. At the same time, the text raises questions about how God intervenes in peoples’ lives. Struggling through why God acts in ways we don’t understand in the text provides a means of talking through the questions we have about how God acts today.

It’s important to me as a pastor to provide opportunities to have difficult conversations, whether that be talking about how God acts, political issues, or racism. Because these conversations matter so much, we spent part of the semester discerning why these conversations are difficult and then helping each other learn better how to speak about things that matter to us, including spiritual matters. We could still use some practice with this, so we’ll keep talking about political issues at pub theology, and we’re looking further at racism this summer.

Lastly, I want to express thanks for the people who have encouraged and helped me in the ministry. I have been inspired and encouraged by Hannah in the short time she’s been with us. I have also been challenged and helped by the students who are part of Campus Edge, especially with our Lenten service and pub theology. I also am thankful for Cory and Heather who willingly answered questions connected to their academic journey. Thanks, too, to the CEF board who pushed me to organize such an evening and who have supported and encouraged me in many other ways. Finally, I give thanks for all of you, especially for your prayers, financial support and general encouragement of the ministry.

Hoping for Change at MSU

Satish Udpa, the new interim president at Michigan State, apologized to survivors at a recent MSU board meeting. Upda spoke the following “on behalf of the university I love, as acting president and an executive officer, and as a former dean and faculty member:”

“I am sorry you were subjected to the pain and humiliation of sexual assault by somebody you should have been able to trust. We failed to comprehend and acknowledge your injuries. We were too slow to grasp the scope and enormity of the offense you endured. And we failed to treat you with the respect and care you deserved even as we sought to make amends.

Upda committed to “listen more closely, ask more caring questions and act more thoughtfully as all of us work to advance the culture of this campus to one focused first on safety and respect.”

I pray that all of us connected to MSU might have the courage and strength to indeed make it a place where people are listened to and cared for.

Prayers for MSU

Periodically, I (Brenda) lead the congregational prayer at River Terrace Church, which supports the ministry of Campus Edge. As a reflection of this semester’s studies on difficult conversations, the prayer includes some of the topics that would be considered difficult, like politics, being vulnerable and honest, and doubt.

As a way of continuing to pray the words in this prayer I am posting it below. It is also a way of praying for the current situation at MSU and the challenges faced by what appears to be the soon resignation of interim president, John Engler.

Almighty God, we come before you with our thanks and our concerns. We thank-you for the work that you are doing in this church and in the ministry of Campus Edge. We thank you for all those connected to MSU that we are able to encourage and support.

God of all peace, we pray for the world. We pray for those harmed by religious persecution or climate change and those suffering on account of war, poverty, or hunger. Bring comfort to all those who are suffering and protection to those who are fleeing dangerous situations. just as Joseph, Mary, and Jesus once had to.

God of all wisdom, we pray especially for this country in the midst of the government shutdown. May good dialogue happen; help those in charge find a way forward that will protect those living in the United States while also being a place where foreigners might be allowed to seek refuge.

God of all power and truth, we bring before you the church – and ask that Your spirit work among us. We pray that we might be able to speak the truth in love with each other, both encouraging each other and holding each other accountable. And that we might find ways to be vulnerable about our struggles and grow through voicing our disagreements. We pray this not only for the wider church but especially for River Terrace and Campus Edge.

We pray also for the work of your church at MSU. We pray for all those reaching out to those on MSU’s campus: that we might provide places where people find fellowship and support as well as space to ask questions about faith and know You better.

God of all comfort, we bring before you the communities of which we are a part. We pray for our families and friends, for the community of River Terrace Church, for those participating in Campus Edge, and for the wider community of Michigan State.

For the MSU community, we pray especially for the challenges that are part of a new semester. Fill people with hope and courage for the challenges and experiences that lie ahead of us. We pray for the family of the student who passed away this week in an accident. And we pray for those who’ve been harmed this past year and for the leadership, especially as John Engler’s time seems to be coming to an end.

We pray for those who are suffering. We pray for the illnesses and suffering that we know  about and for those things we don’t know about – whether that be spine surgeries or infertility, financial troubles or relationship troubles.

May all those suffering know your grace in all of the complicated areas of our lives. Give us the courage and wisdom to know how to be honest and open with each other, speaking about things that matter to us. May we also listen well, encourage each other and to be a strong community to each other.

Knowing that you hear all of our requests, we pray these things in Jesus’ name. Amen.

A Day of Men’s Fellowship and Fun in CEF

On Friday, March 15, a group of men from Campus Edge came together for a day of fellowship.  It started with service that morning at Lansing’s Veterans of America Community Kitchen.  We all got up much sooner than we normally would for a Friday morning, only to realize that our sacrifice is really a way of life for the people we were serving.  By the time we arrived at 6:30, there were already people waiting at the facility for the free meal that would help them get through the day.  An hour and a half later, with well over one hundred hungry people fed and kept warm, I think all of us had a deeper appreciation for God’s call that we love one another as Jesus loved us. 

 

Fast forward twelve hours and the same group of men showed up at Spare Time in East Lansing for some laser tag fun.  I couldn’t have imagined a more enjoyable way to bond with my brothers from CEF than by chasing them around in the dark wearing vests with fluorescent lights.  That alone probably motivated me to join the YMCA the following weekend!  We played two 15-minute missions, trying different sets of teams, only to learn that it really helps to be over 6 feet tall when playing laser tag. 

 

We finished the night off with dinner together at Olga’s in Frandor.  During that time we all enjoyed some great food, a chance to catch our breath, and time for conversation.  We all got excited learning about the fun we’ll be having this summer playing softball with CEF, shared a little about our backgrounds and faith, and connected as fellowship of believers. 

~Diego Avila

Thursday Night Bible Study

We have been studying Moses and Paul and it has been very insightful. These are two individuals that were just as imperfect as any other human, yet did amazing things for God. We have been trying to learn and understand what made these two men unique, yet still human like us. How did God use them despite their imperfections? That is a critical question we have been asking during this study. We have tried to relate the story of Moses and Paul to our lives. We see our imperfections, our failures, our shortcomings, but then we see God display His power through it. We see how Moses and Paul were frustrated at times, tired, and angry, yet they persisted through God’s strength. We want to model their character and behavior in our continual pursuit of a relationship with God. Being able to take what God has given us, use it in the face of difficulty, is of paramount importance to our every day lives. Relying on God and not on ourselves. This is what Moses and Paul exemplified. Yet, they were still both imperfect which shows us that no matter who we were, or who we are, God can use us. All we have to do is commit and say, “Yes Lord, please use me because you are greater than me or any of my failures.”

 ~Bryan Crutcher

Reliving Childhood

Reflections from the Parent’s Night Out Fundraiser

As a graduate student, I don’t get to spend time with kids too often. At least, not as often as I’d like. Parents Night Out was a great way to get that “kid fix” and spend time with fellow Campus Edge members. The best part about Parents Night Out- seeing graduate students in fields of law, music, medicine and many others becoming kids again by giving kids piggy-back rides, “playing house,” and using “baby talk” around the infants. Whether you felt comfortable around kids, or were first-time babysitters, there was something for everyone to get involved in. Students who didn’t have as much babysitting experience coming in to the night, were seen ending the night holding babies until they fell asleep, or watching “Brave” alongside all the kids, equally as entertained. The night consisted of activities for children of each age range, good food, and good company. It certainly was entertaining to see how graduate students and kids combined their creativity to play bizarre games and act out TV or movie characters we haven’t even heard of. From nine-year-olds to two-month olds, there were enough laughs, smiles, screams, and cries to keep all the volunteers busy! By the end of the night- midterms, long nights at the library, and papers didn’t seem as chaotic as they did before! Students seemed to really enjoy getting to spend time with kids, as well as with each other.

~Erin Laarman

Saturday Nights~Community(Enacted)

Last fall at CEF, we started the “Animate” group. After our weekly dinners on Saturday nights, we spent time discussing the idea of “community”. We began to ask questions about community: What is community? Why is it so elusive? How do we find, foster, and build community? As a group we began to consider these questions, how we envisioned community, and what we sought from community.

As these are questions that I have asked personally, I was excited to enter into this dialogue with others. As the group became more comfortable with each other and delved into these questions more deeply, we began to shift gears. Rather than just talk about community, we wanted to begin to experiment with these ideas. Opening up dialogue about community was an initial step, but we wanted it to be more than just a discussion.

So this spring we have retitled and become the Community (Enacted) Group. Our goal is to take the next step and explore what community in action would look like. This will include exploring our connection with God, growing together as a community with various activities and spending time together, and also extending these ideas to the broader community of Michigan State and East Lansing.

Overall, I see the biggest impact of our time together has been the gradual movement of a collection of people towards becoming a community. Simply by creating an environment conducive to community and being open to exploring this further, we have been able to move towards this goal. Often this has taken place in spontaneous ways through conversations over dinner or hanging out after discussions with coffee or board games. I’m sure the group will continue to evolve and I’m excited to see where it goes! And we are glad to welcome others that might be interested in joining us in this experiment!

~Will Demere

Knitting anyone?  Laura Hubbard in the act of teaching the group one of her hobbies.
Knitting anyone? Laura Hubbard in the act of teaching the group one of her hobbies.
Knitting Lessons 101 with any success?
Knitting Lessons 101 with any success?

Basketball Bash

When you go to a Big 10 school, it’s imperative that you attend some basketball games.  When Kory told me there were some extra tickets for the game on January 31, I jumped at the opportunity to go with CEF.  Not only did I enjoy the game, but it was great getting to know others from CEF.

We started off the evening with a tour of the Breslin Center.  The Big 10 and NCAA Tournament trophies are legit and the rings are quite the bling.  We saw “the den”  where the coaches (yay Izzo) spend all their time deliberating and making game plans.  We also saw the film room where athletes from all sports come to plot against their opponents.

We made our way to the concession area, after running into Travis Trice, and had a pizza party amidst plastic crates and concrete walls.  I doubt that the basement of the Breslin has ever experienced such an influx of laughter and fun.  The conversations were interesting too.  I enjoyed getting to know about other’s areas of interest and study as well as debating how to make a spell-binding TV series featuring accountants. (Any ideas anyone?)

For someone who doesn’t watch college basketball until March Madness, the game was a chance for me to learn about our team and actually get to know who the team is.  After a poorly played first half, the Spartans bounced back to win 80-75 against Illinois.  Thanks enthusiatic sports fans for making the game interesting.

Overall, attending this game was a great way to spend a blustery winter evening.  Spending time with CEF and fellow Spartan fans energized me and made me excited for March.  Come March Madness, get ready for some great basketball and bracket challenges!
~ Anna Mooi

Go Green. Go White!
Go Green. Go White!
Part of the group.
Part of the group.
The whole group before the pizza :)
The whole group before the pizza 🙂