In this podcast I talk with King’s grad, Ethan Van Der Leek! Ethan was an incredibly engaged student, finding many ways to serve, during his time at King’s. Despite graduating a number of years ago, he continues to maintain good friendships with many faculty members. In this conversation he talks about what he is up to these days, his time at King’s, and reflects on a paper he wrote looking at Luke’s gospel through the lens of tragedy. Enjoy!
(All Community in Quarantine podcasts can be found on iTunes, search for “Community in Quarantine”)
Yesterday at our King’s Romans Gathering/Chapel we looked at Romans 6:1-14. Colin, a student, gave a beautiful reflection/testimony on this text and he highlighted the baptismal themes in the passage. When most of us envision a baptism, we likely picture a joyful Sunday at a church, surrounded by family and friends, with a celebration to follow.
So, if we see the baptismal day as joyful, why does this Romans text connect it so clearly to death?
Because this death is a good thing…a needed death!
As we have already seen in Romans (if you have been journeying with us), the recipients of Paul’s letter typically ordered their lives by adhering to one of two systems: the Roman-Gentile system or the Judean Law system.
Then Jesus comes.
And with Jesus comes a new way of life. This is a life defined by grace, peace, and ultimately a trust in the God who is creator of all.
But stepping into this life begins with a death. A death to the old self that belonged to a conflicting system…a death system.
Baptism symbolically acts out this death. You are buried in the water with Christ, as Christ was buried in the tomb. Then, just as Christ rose after three days, you rise with him. Ancient baptismal fonts, beautifully and symbolically designed for adult converts, had three steps down to represent Jesus’ three days in death.
When you are baptized, you die with Christ and rise with Christ.
Your death is a dying to the “old self” that found a home in a death system.
Your life is a rising with Christ to a new way of being in God’s world.
One thing that can be difficult for us Christians to understand is that this life begins now! With your baptism, you are raised to a new way of being, a new way of understanding the world, a new way of understanding yourself (hopefully more gracefully!).
All this spiritual talk can sound nice, but how does it matter for the life we are living after our baptismal death and symbolic resurrection?
As I follow the intense election going on in the States right now (which is my country of origin), I see how powerful the pull is to trust in a system other than God’s. In our world, it is so easy to believe that the correct political party is going to save us…if only they can get in power. This notion, that I am admittedly struggling with as I write this, is exactly what Paul is writing about in Romans. Do not trust in the systems of the world(politicians, laws, money, relationships, etc.) to bring life, peace, meaning, and ultimately salvation. Trust in Godrevealed in Jesus.
The question we are left to struggle with is, how do we live as faithful citizens of our world without putting our hope in what the systems of the world promise us?
We can begin, I think, by noticing where we are tempted to put our hope and trust. So, if you were to take an honest look at your life—your hopes, dreams, fears—what does this say about what you trust in? For many of you students, I know it can be easy to put your trust in your achievements in the classroom and what these promise for your future, or in a romantic relationship that you think will bring your life structure, love, and a remedy for loneliness.
As you notice these temptations to trust/hope in worldly things, what would it look like for you to take a small step further into Jesus’ resurrection way of life and away from the systems of our world? How might trusting in Jesus shape how you see the temptations you struggle with?
*If you are a King’s student who is interested in learning more about Christianity and baptism, get in touch with me, Tim Wood.
Enjoy this conversation with mathematics professor, Dr. Rem Kooistra! Rem is a thoughtful and kind professor who has been at King’s for around a decade. We discuss math, biking, plays, facial hair, and contemplative prayer.
You can also find these podcasts on iTunes by searching for “Community in Quarantine.”
Enjoy this reflection from Melanie Salte! If you would like to write a reflection following one of our weekly Romans Gathering, or just a general one, let Tim know. Do you resonate with what Melanie writes? Are you encouraged by it in some way? Feel free to add your comments below.
Entering into the Chapel Zoom room, I have to take a deep breath. Who will I see? What will I say? Does my hair look normal? Do I have my notes ready? Have I talked to everyone involved? Am I ready to press the “Join with Computer Audio” button?
And then I “step in” and find a few have already joined and are sharing about their days, their upcoming assignments, their plans for the weekend. I share alongside them. And as we move into moments of prayer, I am reminded again: that although we are on Zoom, we are joined together. God’s Spirit connects us even here. God’s Spirit meets me here and reminds me of His unwavering presence. As words of thanksgiving are spoken in prayer, my recognition of God’s provision is enhanced. As we sing the words, “Praise God from whom all blessings flow,” my cup is filled to overflowing again. As we take quiet moments in meditative prayer, Jesus makes Himself known to me.
Although I facilitate this space, I don’t realize just how much I need it. I can get caught up in the task list required to create this space. I find it difficult to step in and be in the space. But what great gifts are found here when I am honest in the quiet moments of prayer, when I am not just a group discussion host but am also challenged by the questions I’m asking. How are the political, educational, religious Canadian systems at odds with God’s gospel system, indeed? These are important questions to consider together, important questions to step into.
When a reflective prayer is led and I am asked to think about what I have been feeling these last few days, I can choose to step in and really wonder or I can choose to think about the next item up on the chapel outline, hoping it all runs smoothly. I decide to step in and wonder, and it opens the door to seeing Christ with me in the hard feelings from the last few days. And chapel continues to run just as smoothly. Even if it didn’t, this is a casual space and we’re all just people. It’s worth it to step into the space even if it threatens my control.
I want to invite people into this space because I know first-hand it is a place of comfort, of challenge, of renewal and transformation. I guess the only way to really know if that’s true is to step into it myself.
As we, at The King’s University, begin our journey through Romans, we thought our study could be enriched with a little background wisdom regarding the context of Rome at the time of Paul, so I sat down with theologian Dr. Doug Harink. We hope, and believe, that this conversation will enliven your reading of this beautiful letter. Enjoy!
Doug’s book on Romans, Resurrecting Justice, is great, andwill be released at the end of September 2020. We used this book to produce a small journaling resource for our King’s community to facilitate our reading of the letter. If you are a local King’s person and would like a hard copy of this resource, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Enjoy this reflection from 2nd year student, and Ministry Assistant, Emma Hutchinson. Also, Emma is leading a small group on Mondays at 2:00. This group will be taking a deeper look at Romans and wondering about its message for our time. If you are a King’s student, email Tim Wood @ email@example.com, to join Emma’s group!
It’s the first day of classes and it’s so wonderful to be back! It may look a little (or a lot) different, but once again we have the opportunity to be on campus or online, taking courses and seeing our friends and professors. Since March, I have been realizing more and more what a blessing it is to be here, and how much I took that for granted last year. Throughout my education I have often been reminded of how blessed I am to be able to devote leisure to learning—that I have the free time to devote to studying something that interests me—but being deprived of the opportunity to go to in-person classes at the end of last semester made me realize just what a gift it is to be here. After all, at what other point in my life will I be able to devote so much time to studying the things I love in the company of so many like-minded people? Chances are I won’t have a season like this again in my life. It is making me realize just how valuable this time is.
As a university student, I sometimes struggle to be intentional with my time and have balance in my life. It is so easy to spend so much time studying that I ignore my friends—or to spend so much time with my friends that I ignore my homework. Even if I get the balance between those right, it can be a challenge to keep up with spiritual disciplines. After all, my schedule changes every semester, I’m extremely busy, and sometimes I just forget to sit down and spend time in prayer. I struggle to be just as intentional about having my daily quiet time with God as I am about finishing my homework on time—but also to make sure that my relationship with God isn’t reduced to an item on a to-do list.
That is one reason why I’m excited to be joining the ministry assistant team this year. While I see my role as a servant leader, serving others and pointing them toward Christ, I also see this as a great opportunity for me to learn and grow in my own faith, becoming more intentional in growing in my relationship with God. The beginning of a new school year is a great time to renew commitments, and make a habit out of walking with Christ. I’m especially excited to go through the book of Romans as a community this year, because the Christian life is not meant to be lived alone, but walked in community. I’m hoping to learn from the insights of students, staff, and faculty as we meet on Wednesdays for our larger gatherings, and in smaller groups throughout the week. My hope is that this greater focus on Scripture will be inspiring for the King’s community, and will foster discussions all week and all semester long.
I will admit that as a new MA I’m a little nervous. This is the first time I’ve done anything quite like this, and all the unknowns can be very nerve-wracking. I’m grateful to be supported by such a great team, but also somewhat fearful of following this new calling that God has given me.
I do know that I’m not the only one trying something new this year. Many of you are new students, adjusting to your first year of university classes. Many of you have just moved into residence, or are trying online classes for the first time. Staff and faculty are adapting to new ways of working and teaching. Many of you are facing other challenges or opportunities that are bringing change, possibly unwanted, into your lives. This is a time when it’s going to be really important to give each other grace and be patient with each other, and I’m confident that the King’s community is up to the challenge. My first year at King’s, only last year, was amazing, mainly because I was surrounded by such a great and supportive community. I found great friends in residence, through campus ministries, and other places. My hope for new students this year is that they will be able to experience the great community that makes King’s unique, despite the strange times we are experiencing. That is something that makes me really excited to be an MA, because I get to be a small part of making that happen.
So welcome, or welcome back! I’m so glad you’re a part of this community, and I hope you’ll dive in and join us in studying Romans this year. None of us knows what this year will bring, but we do know the God we serve, and that is something we can hold onto, in spite of our nervousness and fear. May we have a semester of hope!
In this episode Paul Batz describes navigating student life at King’s, including struggles with chemistry and a transition to being an English major. He also reflects on the church and his move to the Orthodox Christian faith. Most importantly, he picks three faculty members to be on his forthcoming interpretive dance team. Paul is thoughtful, energetic and kind. I hope you enjoy listening to this conversation as much as I enjoyed sitting down with him to have it!
Find linked here an incredibly thought-provoking (especially given our current circumstances) blogpost about forced confinement in a WW2 internment camp by King’s historian, Mark Sandle: Confined, Mark Sandle
Before you head over to read it, however, I invite you to read it devotionally. Slow down. Read the 1 Corinthians 11 passage below before you go to the blogpost. This is a famous passage that is often misunderstood–what is Paul really concerned with? Read the 1 Corinthians passage again when you have finished the blog post and engage in the questions below, if you’d like.
In what ways do you “eat” with separation between you and your sisters and brothers?
Sit with the thought that Jesus not only waits to eat with you, but sets a place specifically for you at his table. Remember that you didn’t earn this place and therefore you don’t have to hide your brokenness in his presence! How do you feel at his table? Look around, who else is at the table? What is the spirit of the feast? How do you enjoy this spirit now?
How do Mark’s concluding thoughts/questions and Paul’s passage relate to the two viruses of Covid and racism infecting our world? What would a faithful church or Christian University look like in this time? What should we be concern with?
1 Corinthians 11 (Message Version)
17-19 Regarding this next item, I’m not at all pleased. I am getting the picture that when you meet together it brings out your worst side instead of your best! First, I get this report on your divisiveness, competing with and criticizing each other. I’m reluctant to believe it, but there it is. The best that can be said for it is that the testing process will bring truth into the open and confirm it.
20-22 And then I find that you bring your divisions to worship—you come together, and instead of eating the Lord’s Supper, you bring in a lot of food from the outside and make pigs of yourselves. Some are left out, and go home hungry. Others have to be carried out, too drunk to walk. I can’t believe it! Don’t you have your own homes to eat and drink in? Why would you stoop to desecrating God’s church? Why would you actually shame God’s poor? I never would have believed you would stoop to this. And I’m not going to stand by and say nothing.
23-26 Let me go over with you again exactly what goes on in the Lord’s Supper and why it is so centrally important. I received my instructions from the Master himself and passed them on to you. The Master, Jesus, on the night of his betrayal, took bread. Having given thanks, he broke it and said,
This is my body, broken for you. Do this to remember me.
After supper, he did the same thing with the cup:
This cup is my blood, my new covenant with you. Each time you drink this cup, remember me.
What you must solemnly realize is that every time you eat this bread and every time you drink this cup, you reenact in your words and actions the death of the Master. You will be drawn back to this meal again and again until the Master returns. You must never let familiarity breed contempt.
27-28 Anyone who eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Master irreverently is like part of the crowd that jeered and spit on him at his death. Is that the kind of “remembrance” you want to be part of? Examine your motives, test your heart, come to this meal in holy awe.
29-32 If you give no thought (or worse, don’t care) about the broken body of the Master when you eat and drink, you’re running the risk of serious consequences. That’s why so many of you even now are listless and sick, and others have gone to an early grave. If we get this straight now, we won’t have to be straightened out later on. Better to be confronted by the Master now than to face a fiery confrontation later.
33-34 So, my friends, when you come together to the Lord’s Table, be reverent and courteous with one another. If you’re so hungry that you can’t wait to be served, go home and get a sandwich. But by no means risk turning this Meal into an eating and drinking binge or a family squabble. It is a spiritual meal—a love feast.
The other things you asked about, I’ll respond to in person when I make my next visit.
Cathy Jol has been on staff at King’s since 2004. She is a gentle, hard-working person of prayer who loves connecting with students. In this episode Cathy is very open; she shares stories from her life where God challenged her and her family, in hopes that these stories might encourage others. One of my favourite parts of our conversation is when she describes being a “blood cell.” Enjoy getting to know Cathy better!