About Missions Conference
Extended Theme Explanation:
There is a duality to the student body and the world that it occupies this year. Similarly to the Israelites who had just returned to their homeland, we see two sides as well: the need to restore and the need to remember what brought us here today. The Israelites used the foundation of their history to begin the process of rebuilding their place of worship, The Temple. They rejoiced at the work of restoration and mourned the loss of what they had to endure to get there. These dichotomous emotions are surrounded and emphasized by the need to thank and glorify God for his love and steadfastness. We, like the Israelites, are returning to the ruins of what we left behind so many years ago and are now attempting to restore while also remembering all the things that we have lost. From the Covid-19 global pandemic to the division of race and ethnicity in America, we are feeling the deep need for restoration. We are coming out of a time we do not want to forget. We want to honor and acknowledge the different stories and experiences of our student body, keeping the memory of our past alive and looking forward to a future of restoration in the form of our conference.
While we need to acknowledge and have the space to lament the pain and loss of what has happened in the past, we must take action and facilitate a community of healing. For too long we have been in stasis and have not been able to engage with others, meeting them in their experiences. We want this conference to propel the restoration of a foundation that was destroyed when we left this community two years ago. Like the Israelites, we need to be doers. Even though they faced so much hardship and were in the process of mourning the old temple, they still moved to construct the new temple. The Israelites weren’t afraid to move forward with the building of the temple even though they had just returned from exile. In their courage they built the temple first rather than the walls. They emphasized the importance of having a place of worship. This demonstrates the trust that the Israelites have in God’s protection, knowing that they could move forward in doing His work without fear of anything around them. Only after they completed the Temple did they move out to build the walls that would serve as protection for that place where the Lord would be praised. They did not dwell too long on their sorrow or let their losses cripple them, but focused on the work and mission that God had placed ahead of them.
At its most basic level “and” is a grammatical conjunction. It combines two or more ideas in a sentence. In a more conceptual sense, “and” combines two or more ideas. “And” essentially acts as the rope holding two ideas together. Imagine each idea as objects and imagine “and” is the rope that is connecting both of them. Some ideas we easily accept together like Peanut Butter “and” Jelly. This concept is really easy to hold together, there is slack in the imaginary rope and its weight is light. However, with some concepts, there is more tension. With the concepts of restore & remember I imagine the rope holding these two ideas together being very tense and the weight of these ideas being very heavy for some to hold in conjunction. But it is important, nonetheless, to keep this pathway of “and” open. It may be difficult and frustrating at times… AND I also believe it can lead to a matured faith, and deeper love for others, and a more substantiated worldview. When we commit to holding these two seemingly opposing ideas (restore and remember) we make faith a verb. Just sitting with these concepts and considering them deeply and thoughtfully is an act of faith, and faith can be scary, and it has a lot of work, AND it is very much worth it. Because, at the end of the day these concepts go hand in hand. You can’t have celebration without grief, and you cannot restore without remembering the past. We cannot get to the “good” part without first acknowledging and working to better the “bad”.