A pitch-black street familiar to me is illuminated by streetlights and the warm glow of headlights from early-riser commuters. I live alongside one of the major highways that serves as a corridor to three of the five boroughs of New York City. I find myself comforted on early mornings like this when I can sit, think, and listen to the lull of driving cars before the highway becomes a cacophony of honks and construction drilling. I do like the sound of cars and trucks, and as an urbanite I feel at home when I am certain there is a bustle around me.
Previously, I wrote about the veracity of Scripture being based on Jesus’ testimony that the Bible is God’s Word. Every instance in which Jesus refers to the Old Testament is marked by the presupposition that the account being referred to is both true and accurate. One example of this is Jesus’ reference to the miraculous story of Jonah being in the belly of the great fish for three days and nights as a historical reality (Matthew 12:40). Likewise, all assertions found in the New Testament are grounded in Christ’s teachings.
The wintertime gets a great deal of hate because of the cold weather, the nasty storms, the lack of sunlight, and what seems an overly long length. One thing most people do enjoy is the day of “first snow.” If you live in a place where snow is a regular occurrence or grew up in such a place, you may remember snow days! These were some of the most joyous times—that in 2020 (with the advent of remote learning) many students will not experience. Gone are the days of eating cereal while watching your favorite shows and spending the day sledding, having snowball fights, and generally vegging out—after shoveling, of course!
It was a beautiful day; the glory of creation was undeniable, and the fruit looked tempting … or at least it did after that simple but fatal question: “Did God really say …?”
With that discourse, Satan led humanity into a downward spiral of questioning and doubting the perfect and loving words of the Creator, who seeks nothing less than communion and harmony with His beloved children. The question that slithered out so many ages ago continues to echo throughout our fallen race and even within our Church.
When was the last time you failed at something? Did you truly fail or just stop trying?
In my work, I ask students to recall failure as part of our now-common virtual interactions. When middle schoolers or high schoolers answer, they usually reflect on a major test or quiz. When college students answer, their responses are more mixed, as experiences at that age are more diverse. Some speak of an entire course, while others venture into explorations of failed attempts at making a team or becoming a part of a group. We then talk about what we learned from failures and how weaving past mistakes into our approach can equip us for future success. These are all from a perspective we see commonly spoken about in our world today.
There is an existential crisis among our youth. That is not to say that such a crisis is sudden, or even new, to this young generation. In many ways, this crisis is at the root of the many challenges and fears facing our country today. Beyond the political and cultural crises—even deeper than the genetic code of the coronavirus—there is a deep yearning to have a purpose in a world that seems to suggest there is none. The world might suggest such a reality, but nothing is further from the truth. Paul says that God has “blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing … even as He chose us in Him before the foundation” of the cosmos to be “holy and blameless before Him” (Ephesians 1:3–4).
How long is your list of cancellations this year? Each month of 2020 seems to try to bring back one thing we lost and also takes away something many of us were looking forward to. A majority of my day is spent helping high school students who are transitioning to college. One of the most disappointing pieces of news that I have to deliver over and over again is telling a student that he or she waited too long to take advantage of an opportunity. Yes, deadlines are clearly stated, but additionally, some things “run out” if you do not jump on them quickly enough. In my job, this happens most often when classes fill up, when dorms reach capacity, or when scholarship money is used up. As if these missed opportunities were not difficult enough, many students in 2020 are also encountering cancellations from the world as well—through no direct fault of their own. We struggle in this together.
Repeat after me: “Having been created in the image of God, all humans are equal in value, honor, and dignity.” It’s a statement that I go over and over again in my theology classes. It begins freshmen year, when we encounter God in Genesis muddying his hands as He shapes his beloved creation in His own image. It continues through senior year as students consider the root of ethics: all humans have a common, innate dignity, derived from their relationship with the Creator, which compels that we love one another. Any ethical system devoid of that truth fails to maintain the intrinsic dignity of humanity.
Who am I? What does God want with me? During my youth, and perhaps even still now, those were questions I constantly considered. After all, I’m just a simple human without a grand life or thrilling adventure to speak about. Yet God has called us to be His own through baptism, made us His children, and has called us into His salvation story. How can you encourage your youth to see that, even in the monotonous, their lives are part of God’s epic story of salvation?
I can see how people might be skeptical regarding Scripture. I was, after all. At one point, I truly didn’t know much about the Bible, so the minute someone stated that the Bible wasn’t reliable, it was all the evidence I needed to convince me that the Bible wasn’t true. I didn’t do any research for myself—I didn’t even read more into the claims. Nope. I was simply sure they were right. (Though this is not the case anymore.)