January is the exciting, “fresh start” month after New Years. February doesn’t have anything to offer really, except dreary weather, which is okay if that’s your thing. For most it’s a real bummer. In March, however, we get to see a preview of spring, and it’s usually worth the wait. This year, at least, I think we can agree that March has been doing us a huge favor (no thanks to you, February). Being Washingtonians our moods and our lives often reflect that weather (or “wetter” as I like to call it), don’t you think? Complacency, passive acceptance of our circumstances, apathy, depression… Do you know how to tell the difference between a Western Washington local and someone who’s just visiting? Visitors use umbrellas, Washingtonians just get drenched. At best most locals will wear their fancy brand name soft or hard shell waterproof jackets, but lots of us just take it like walking sponges. Maybe that’s you. Maybe your life has been stuck in February and there’s no sight of March. Maybe Winter has settled in and Spring sounds just a little too optimistic to be real. You’ve soaked your fill of life’s rain drops and it’s weighing you down. Here’s something especially for you: Spring is coming.
There’s a story in the Bible often called The Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) and it follows the life of a Washingtonian. Well, that’s not true, but you’ll see what I mean. If you don’t know it, here’s the Spark Notes version:
A young guy takes his inheritance, forsakes his family, runs away and blows it all on wild living. Poor, starving and ashamed he returns home if only just to eat out of his father’s pig trough. Plot twist: his father accepts him with open arms, welcomes him back into the family and gives him an unconditional second chance at life.
Sometimes when things have been rough we stoop to scrape out of life whatever good we can, but that never satisfies. We’re so starving for the real stuff that we’ll settle for things that aren’t really fulfilling. Don’t eat the slop! At Chi Alpha we’re about the wholesome life; the Spring Time life that Jesus promises, and alone delivers. When you’ve found something this good, it would be selfish not to share it!
Come check out our large group meetings on Mondays at 12:30 in C103, our Women’s small group at 10:30am on Wednesdays and our Men’s small group, meeting up in the Student Union main lounge at 2:30 to see what we’re talking about. Whether you call yourself a Christian or not, it doesn’t matter. Just come.
If you are a Christian but still going through a rough season, March On. You’ve got a family here at Bellevue College and we’re waiting for you with open arms. Life isn’t always rainbows and butterflies, but that doesn’t mean you have to face the Februaries alone either. Don’t be passive. March On.
Hi there! This is Jack talking here…
Yes, 2015 has moved in and he’s brought a lot of things along with him, both good and bad. I don’t know about you, but I was not looking forward to the New Year. Why? I feel compelled to tell you a little bit about my history with the holiday and what God has been teaching me through it in this season.
In the past New Years hasn’t been the best experience for me. Drunken fights, hospitals, heartbreak… Three years ago I spent it with someone who had a psychotic breakdown and threatened me with a knife. The year after that I spent the night alone in an airport, singing traditional Pakistani songs with the janitor. Last year I spent it with the person who threatened me two years before (they were becoming much more stable, thankfully), and this year… well, I was beginning to feel a little bit like the Jews at the first Passover—I would be happy just to make it through the night alive.
It seems that every year has been doomed to get off on the wrong foot. This year, however, things have been different. It started a few weeks ago at a missionary conference in Denver, Colorado (those of you on Facebook may recall that picture of me waving my Seahawks scarf in the airport…). The speaker, Paul Austin, was teaching about the process of pioneering a campus ministry and he made a point that I found very interesting. While pioneering a ministry missionaries often have goals and a vision of what they hope to become their first year. This is good, but as much as you try to teach a person what to expect in campus ministry, they’ll never be prepared. This is because much of ministry is, as they say, “caught, not taught.” Many missionaries crash and burn their first try because they don’t take time to enjoy the process and “catch” the vision of their work. Paul’s simple solution was for missionaries to think of year one as “year zero.” According to this method nothing is off limits and the more you try the better. Did something you try work well? Great! Did it totally crash and burn? Great! It all counts because the most important thing in Year Zero is that you experience and learn. Then you will be prepared for Year 1 where you can focus on growing. What a relief!
As a Christian I’ve come to realize something very similar about Grace. We often step out in faith, or approach things like the new year with certain resolutions, and end up falling flat on our face. Maybe secretly we begin to wonder if God has it out for us, or, if you’re like me, doomed us to begin every year on the wrong foot. We forget that regardless of the good or bad that occurs in our lives his Grace has made it possible for us to live simply for the purpose of loving him, and learning about his love for us. It’s as if we’ve been living in Year Zero all along! And if we focus on this he promises to take care of the rest, and we are free to enjoy the journey.
This year I feel liberated to enjoy all that God has in store for me, knowing that my mission is simple and his Grace is sufficient. I pray that you also catch the spirit of “year zero” as you walk boldly in his Grace through whatever comes. If you want to know how New Years turned out for me check the back!
The academic front lines of Bellevue College have been deserted, signaling the start of Winter Break. Stressed out students have retreated to their respective caves for hibernation, stressed out faculty and staff are buzzing to prep for next quarter, and we are somewhere in between. The last couple days we have had a lot of time to reflect on where we have been this quarter and think critically about where we’re going.
It wouldn’t be Christmas without a healthy dose of nostalgia, so let’s take a minute to reflect on the quarter and think about where we’ve been and what we’re thankful for.
Hands down the best part of this quarter has been getting to meet so many wonderful people. We really, really like them, and it appears they like us too, so that’s good. Shout out to our cafeteria friends Orion, Calisha, Masa, Jillian, Cameron, Tiffany, and Matt! Seeing your smiling faces has been the highlight of our quarter.
2. Small Groups!
It’s been a leap of faith for us to show up and hope that people want to hang out with us. At first it seemed like it wasn’t going to happen, but in the course of a just a couple months we saw our small groups go from 1 to about 30 (give or take) attendees! What a trip.
The Bible talks a lot about faith being like a walk (2 Cor. 5:7, Hebrews 11:6, Prov. 3:5-6) though this quarter has been anything but a stroll in the park. Still, looking back we see clearly that Jesus was with us all the way. If it weren’t for Jesus we wouldn’t be here doing what we’re doing in the first place, but in a smaller sense he’s been in the midst of everything we do; giving us inspiration, guiding our words and our thoughts to bring us to where we are. It’s a great feeling knowing we are right where we’re supposed to be.
Now, looking ahead, we are so excited to be back on campus and serving students. Here’s some things to look forward to:
1. Winter Camp!
One of the biggest events of the year is something we call Winter Camp, and it involves all sorts of fun shenanigans with other Chi Alphas from all across the great Northwest. If you’re interested in having a ton o’ fun, come with us this January 23rd – 25th and experience what Chi Alpha is all about. If you have any questions feel free to email any one of us.
2. Chi Alpha T-shirts!
We’ve got free XA swag to anyone who signs up for Winter Camp!
3. Small Groups!
Never fear! Your favorite part of the week will (still) be here when you wake up from hibernation. Yes ma’am, this quarter we’re getting deep and gritty by taking a good, hard look at what it means to be a Christian. If you’re not about that life, don’t worry. Just come and bring your thought-provoking questions. Everyone is welcome! Stay tuned for when and where we’ll be meeting this quarter.
Enjoy your time with friends and family! We look forward to seeing you soon.
Jack, Ben and Kylie
We will be writing some regular updates here at our blog. Coming soon!