Sunday, February 8, 2009

Introducing St. Francis Forum

We're launching this little blog during what seems like an appropriate liturgical season. In Epiphany, we're encouraged to reflect on the ways Jesus calls us to be his disciples. That discernment is a constant theme in our life at St. Francis House, and probably all campus ministries. After all, most of us students are trying to figure out--often with frustrating degrees of success--what it is we're supposed to do with our lives.

A few weeks ago, we heard one such story: the calling of Nathanael. There's a lot to admire, I think, in this short exchange between Philip and Nathanael in the first chapter of the final gospel:

Philip found Nathanael and said to him, "We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth." Nathanael said to him, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" Philip said to him, "Come and see." (John 1:45-46, NRSV)

Philip's greeting certainly reveals a joyous enthusiasm, but given the gravity of his claim and the recentness of his conversion, I'm not sure whether to be impressed with or skeptical of it. Nathanael seems to choose the latter approach. But now Philip's response to him is measured and humble, seemingly grounded in a spiritual maturity that we might not have expected in light of his first (hasty?) outburst: "Come and see." And so Nathanael does, and we soon learn that he's destined to see "greater things than these."

I dig this wide range of responses to the Good News: exuberance, skepticism, and--ultimately--a pointing beyond one's self. This story paints a picture of discipleship that's true to my experience of the life of faith at a campus ministry and in the Episcopal Church. We don't always agree about the meaning and nature of the law and the prophets, but (on our best days) our disagreements and skepticism and brokenness don't prevent us from coming together in Christ and seeing the new and often amazing things that God is doing in the world every day.

We hope this blog (and St. Francis House in general) can be a place to process these moments of both joy and frustration, discernment and confusion. So whether you're having a Philip day or a Nathanael day, we hope this forum will be useful to you. If you're interested in contributing to St. Francis Forum, drop us an email at blog@stfrancisuw.org.

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