A Letter From Rob
It was the last gathering of the Campus House community in the Mushroom.
It’s definitely not how we had scripted it. We had planned on a big finale. We would invite alums and supporters to come join in the worship and celebration. There would be stories and slideshows, sentimental tears and tangible excitement about the new House. Instead, it was March 12th, the Thursday before Spring Break, with 40 or 50 students and staff sitting on the floor of the big room.
Two days before, Purdue had announced that, because of COVID-19, all classes would be moved online for the foreseeable future, and any trips and gatherings of more than 50 people would be cancelled. For us, this would include the annual Spring Break trip to Tennessee, as well as Sunday worship gatherings and our Vision Trip to Northern Ireland.
Many students had left for break, but we had a small gathering with the “remnant” left on campus. The emotions of our students were running somewhere between disappointment, frustration, and even anger. We wanted to have a chance to reassure and encourage them to remain faithful, selfless, and attached to God’s peace and presence in a time of global uncertainty. We invited them to acknowledge places of frustration and confess places of entitlement, to be realigned with the supremacy and living hope of Christ.
It was a moving time of prayer and worship, but also one of commissioning our students to be attentive and distinctive, to have their heads up and eyes open for what God is doing in this season. The presence of God was palpable, moving us from a collective heaviness into the fuller picture of expectation and anticipation of how the Spirit will move in these coming weeks. There was even a baptism following!
Again, it was the last gathering of the Campus House community in the Mushroom. It was a perfect send-off.
It was fitting that the last snapshot be a replication of thousands previous––students worshipping, praying, and walking out the doors with a renewed sense of calling and gratitude for the God who sees, knows, and is moving powerfully.
Throughout this year, we have been expressing a tri-focal look at the theme “Reframing the House”; namely, the replacing of our literal house, the renovation of the heart in the lives of each Jesus-follower, and the restoration project that Jesus has going in the world through His Church. What is true across the board––in the 54-year life of Campus House, in the individual lives of each student at Purdue, and in the broader Church Body––is that Jesus is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. That He is the head of the Body, the Church; He is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything He might have the supremacy. He is foundation, the cornerstone, and the capstone of His House (Col. 1:17-18; 1 Cor. 3:11; Eph. 2:20; Ps. 118:22).
So, then, in the present cultural moment, let’s take our cue from the writer of Hebrews: “All of creation will be shaken and removed, so that only unshakable things will remain” (Heb. 12:27).
Friends, may we stay attached to the reality of “what remains” in the midst of the shaking. May we replace fear with a deep love for the lost, a strong awareness of the Gospel hope in the midst of darkness, and a resolute desire to live for Christ and make Him known. May this next season be one of depth before breadth as we learn to listen, love, and live into Christ’s Kingdom calling.
This is a defining moment for the Church––not despite polarizing political divides; not despite the decay of morality, pervasive racism, and the erosion of family; not despite a mental health crisis, poverty, and environmental chaos; not despite pandemics and brokenness in every form…
But in light of the fact that this is still our Father’s world and the Spirit is still hovering over the chaos about to bring life. The Kingdom of Heaven has broken through the veil, and the restoration project, the renovation of hearts, the renewal of minds, and the transformation of lives and communities is in motion.
Christ is reframing the House. He is tearing out the closets of independence, sin, and selfishness. He is replacing the walls graffitied with the scrawling of our idolatrous self-importance. He is restoring the woodwork to see the grains of the Cross throughout. He is replacing the windows to let His (natural) light flood the space, but also so that we can look out to see our neighbors, to see and serve the lost and broken who are in dire need of the truth and grace of the Gospel, to see our brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ, of whom we are just a part.
He is putting in wider doors so more Boilermakers can experience a true Gospel-centered, Sprit-led, missional community and then be sent out the same doors having encountered Jesus, having experienced His grace, having a fire and a vision for a life completely committed to Him.
The storyline of the Gospel is that Jesus is building His House; His Church, His Kingdom. However, through His grace, we get to participate in this building project. There isn’t anything remotely formulaic or compartmentalized about that process. Eugene Peterson writes, “The gospel life isn’t something we learn about and then put together with instructions from the manufacturer; it’s something we become as God does his work of creation and salvation in us and as we accustom ourselves to a life of belief and obedience and prayer.”
This is a call to deeper faith.
This is a call to active obedience.
This is a call to bigger prayers.
This is a call to reframe the House in its various forms; to get this building project to the finish line, and to build a culture of discipleship and mission that floods this campus, this country, and this world with the transformative message of the Gospel.
“Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.” (Col. 4:2)