Thursday, November 13, 2008

Ramifications of the Reformation

When I think of the impact of the Reformation, I usually think about the split from the Catholic church, the doctrine of salvation through faith alone, or the change in ideas of vocation. I don’t think I would ever have pictured it causing a small college in Southern California to take a week of the month of October and label it “Reformation Awareness Week.” But that is exactly what happens at Providence at the end of October, the week before Halloween.

I grew up celebrating Reformation Day when everyone else was celebrating Halloween. While little witches wandered the neighborhood, I sat at home and read the 95 Theses. Or attempted to comprehend 5 of the 95 Theses. You get the point. So, when October rolled around at Providence last year I was pleasantly surprised! It’s a week of learning about the life and work of Martin Luther and the doctrines of the church combined with a bit of fun craziness.

This year, we began again with a night of watching the movie “Martin Luther” while eating some amazing Ollie Bolen (an amazing Dutch food I had never tried before Providence since I am decidedly not Dutch :o) The next night our courtyard was alive with merriment as we sat around tables lit by candlelight, trying to see enough to tell where we were stabbing our pumpkin carving knives (although I’m not sure you could really call them knives…they were more like doll-sized bread saws). Although a lot of people got creative with their pumpkins (we had an Obama face), my roommate and I opted for the traditional triangle eyes and smile and contented ourselves to wander around with our customized caramel apples and admire the handiwork of others.

The next, we had finally reached it – Reformation Day! Booths were set up, balloons and streamers were hung, and costumes were donned as we prepared for the visitation of kids. The night’s activities included a Reformation skit, and choices from a fishing booth, donut eating contest, apple bobbing, cake-walk, and nailing the 95 Theses on the door of the church at Wittenberg (pretty much Pin-the-Tail-on-the-Donkey). It was this last booth I was in charge of for most of the night, and I must say, it’s quite enjoyable to make people dizzy :o) So, the next time you’re wondering if anyone pays any attention to that guy named Martin Luther, wander down to Providence for a few days in October and join us as we remember the vital and long-lasting ramifications of the Reformation.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

There's No Place Like Home

These past two weeks have been that wonderfully horrible time of the semester – mid-terms. Since I tend to be fairly dramatic and can quite easily turn a little amount of stress into a lot of stress, mid-terms are something I dread. As I sit here right now in my room wearing a warm sweater and cozy socks I can feel my eyes drooping and I am extremely thankful I have only one test left to take. But more than that, I feel super blessed at this moment in time.

I got a letter in the mail from a friend from back home today. I had just taken woken up from my recover-from-my-history-final nap when I stumbled into the office to find a purple envelope sitting in my mailbox. The stories from my friend’s life and my hometown left me happy, but wishing I could be home. Then this evening, I was lying on the couch in the library reading Ralph Waldo Emerson wishing more than anything I could have a fire, a blanket, and a warm cup of tea. The ache I felt to be home was overwhelming. So finally, I wandered back to my hall and as I walked down my hallway I noticed my RD’s door was open and a peek in the doorway revealed Jen standing in her cozy kitchen wearing an apron and making cookies. I walked in and once again, I just wanted to be home. But I tried to push that feeling away a little bit and started just talking to Jen. After a while, I noticed she had a basket of tea sitting on the counter and I couldn’t help but exclaim over it. Before I knew it, I was sitting down with tea cup in front of me as I dipped a bag of orange tea up and down in the water.

This might seem like a strange story to you, but I just feel like God is so amazing and I couldn’t help but share it. I don’t really know how to explain the comfort I found in that cup of tea. It was like a soothing mixture of warmth, home, and grace swirling gently around and settling peacefully in the ceramic bowl. It reminded me to trust that God has led me to the right place. When I long for the home I can’t be at, God brings a little bit of home to me. A fellow PCCer flashes me a smile, my professor makes me laugh until my sides ache, and my RD offers me a cup of tea. And I find that in the midst of craziness, stress, lack of sleep, and tests, God pours out His mercy in my life – sometimes quite literally.