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Uncovering Vocation: A Series Highlighting the Vocation of Augsburg Staff and Faculty

Vocation is a term we use a lot around Augsburg. It can be vague. It can mean different things to different people. It can feel elusive and slippery. 

An attempt to explain vocation by Jeremy Myers: “You have probably heard the word vocation used to talk about one’s job. It is sometimes used to describe post-secondary educational institutions designed to train individuals for certain trades such as electrician, welder, plumber, carpenter, mechanic, etc. We use the term differently at Augsburg. It can be associated with your job, but it is also much more than that. Vocation is the way you are equipped, empowered, called, and driven to make our world a better place for all living things.”

On most 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of the month, some of our favorite members of Augsburg University’s staff and faculty share their stories of their own vocations during chapel worship. Vocation is all around us, lived out in the here and now and in all departments and spaces at Augsburg. Together we can start uncovering vocation in all our lives. Learn more about Vocation here

We have been grateful to the staff and faculty who are willing to share their stories with our community. We are especially grateful to those who have already shared their stories the past two months. Paula O’Loughlin, Mike Grewe, Najeeba Syeed and Kao Nou Moua.

We hope you will join us this coming Tuesday, December 6th for our final vocation chapel of the year, “We Die, We Break, We Love:  A Jewish Story of Call and Response” Dr. Audrey Lensmire.

Check out the recordings of the vocation chapels we have had so far! 

Continue reading “Uncovering Vocation: A Series Highlighting the Vocation of Augsburg Staff and Faculty”

PROCLAMATION AS PERFORMING JUBILEE by Jeremy Myers

As a way of teaching congregations how to engage their neighbors and neighborhoods, we introduce them to a method we call the Public Church Framework. This framework consists of four movements including accompaniment, interpretation, discernment, and proclamation. These movements bleed into one another and collectively are cyclical, or a spiral, in that they are never completed but rather lead to further and deeper practice of these movements. We like to think of this framework as descriptive of what we do when we are attentive to God and to our neighbor rather than prescriptive of some “one true way” to be in ministry. 

In the beginning of October, we gathered together as a learning community to explore the artform of proclamation. The RIH Learning Partners gathered in the chapel. But what is proclamation and why does it matter? 

There is a concept within the philosophy of language called performative utterances. This idea was developed by philosopher John L. Austin in the 1940’s and 1950’s . He was arguing against the notion that all words and statements are only descriptive or evaluative. He uncovered certain phrases and uses of words that are not intended to be descriptive at all, but are rather intended to be performative. A classic example he would use is the utterance, “’I name this ship the Queen Elizabeth’ – as uttered when smashing the bottle against the stem.” Other examples would include, “I now pronounce you equal partners in marriage”, or “I forgive you.” These words and phrases are not describing or evaluating anything, rather they are doing things.

This idea of performative utterances helps us understand what we mean when we talk about the word of God. God’s words are performative utterances. They do things. In the first chapter of Genesis, God is not describing or evaluating what the cosmos has or will look like. Instead, God is calling the cosmos into being. “Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light” (Genesis 1:3, NRSV). But the performative utterances of God do not only show up as spoken words throughout scripture. In the second creation narrative, God is not speaking a word – only acting. “In the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, when no plant of the field was yet in the earth and no herb of the field had yet sprung up – for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no one to till the ground; but a stream would rise from the earth, and water the whole face of the ground . . . A river flows out of Eden to water the garden . . .” (Genesis 2:4b-6, 10, NRSV). There are times in scripture where God’s creative force is shared with the world through performative utterances, and there are times in scripture where God’s creative force is water.

Continue reading “PROCLAMATION AS PERFORMING JUBILEE by Jeremy Myers”

Christensen Scholars 2022-23

Headshots of all 9 Christensen Scholars in small circles with text "Christensen Scholars 2022-23" on top left.

Introducing our 2022-23 Christensen Scholars!

Please check out the students’ bios below to learn more about their hopes for this world and their place in it.

Up to ten students are selected each academic year to participate in the Christensen Scholars Seminar. This program provides a unique opportunity for students to discuss and explore theology, faith, and vocation in a small, supportive cohort. Each Christensen Scholars is also connected with a community-based learning experience designed to enhance this seminar experience. You can learn more about our Christensen Scholars program here. Continue reading “Christensen Scholars 2022-23”

One Wild and Precious Life – Innerstanding Vocation by Geoffrey Gill

This is an exploration of an unfolding relationship with vocation. It all started back in 2008 during my freshman year at Augsburg. That’s when I was introduced to vocation. That’s when my life took a drastic turn and I tapped into something that woke me up and gave me a sense of purpose. 
While recording this video we explored the Christensen Symposium with Jeremy Myers and then we talked to current students and a faculty member about their thoughts around vocation and being a neighbor. I was able to weave all these different ideas together, over 14 years of exploring, to really innerstand* what vocation means to me. My hope is that this short video will spark something for you and that you will innerstand* your vocation is happening right now, right here in this very moment.
*(innerstand: knowing something as an experience; where one is able to make a personal connection, Not just a concept.

 

What If? By Shae. Cunningham (Team Messiah)

I have known Shae for some years now and she has always had such a big and kind heart. She exemplifies what it means to love without conditions. Her relationship with God is her foundation and something that I have always admired. Shae has the ability to tap into the deepness within, drawing out inspiration for all those around her. This Poem reveals how much pain and hurt she has felt in and for her community, and she poses this mind expanding question; which is more of a possibility…what if things were different? ~RIH Facilitator Geoffrey Gill 


What If? "What if?" in the middle of a blue sky with trees around it. Perspective taken from the ground looking up.

What happens in the neighborhoods where children are overshadowed by the decay and they no longer laugh or play the way they used to, 

A place where young boys choose to follow figures who had no father figures who become casualties for a war for their drug king before their adolescence. 

Becoming murals to be forgotten and only to be remembered by their laugh lines, pictures, and eventually chalk lines and yellow tape, 

A young tragedy like Romeo and Juliet except the streets is the Juliet where young Romeos become the prey and become entangled in this dangerous love affair and drink the poison that results them to become misguided lights and lead them to extinction.  Continue reading “What If? By Shae. Cunningham (Team Messiah)”

Uncovering the Mystery: Campus Ministry Fall Theme

Written by Hannah Sackett, our Campus Ministry Pastoral Intern. Hannah has previously worked with CCV through a local congregation involvement in our Riverside Innovation Hub. We are excited to have her on campus this next year. Find out more about Hannah here

The school year has begun at Augsburg University! The buildings are abuzz with energy and life, and there is a general sense of newness as the community navigates what it looks like to be together again in these days. Much of what the school year may hold remains undiscovered and unknown; full of possibilities, but also perhaps tinged with some new-year-nerves. As the new pastoral intern on campus, I can relate! 

 

The campus ministry team at the block party outside Foss. This fall, the theme in Campus Ministry is “Uncovering the Mystery”, a theme that in itself allows space for multiple meanings: holding space for Scripture, learning from one another in community, and practicing listening deeply, to name a few. But it also encourages us to explore some big questions together. Does something need to be uncovered in our lives in order to live into God’s call more fully? How might we make space for new wisdom to take root, to reveal what has felt hidden? Will something about our vocation be made clearer to us this year? Maybe sitting in mystery together can allow for new understandings, as well as a comfort with the unknown. 

 

For a period of time, I worked as a canoe guide in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in northern Minnesota. And during canoe trips, I was often eager to know my exact route, know where each portage trail began and ended, to know how things would unfold. Oftentimes, though, the geographical twists and turns on the lakes in real life were not as easy to navigate as they were on the birdseye view from a map. Commonly, in fact, you couldn’t really see a portage entrance until it was right in front of you – and it was definitely easier and more enjoyable to do with other group members. Over time, I became more comfortable with the phrase we often used, “Know as you go”. And while it’s not always easy, it felt like a life lesson that applied to more than just canoe trips. What can feel like a mystery is often revealed if we draw closer to it and pay attention together. 

 

Students with Pastor Babette at the Block partyThe theme of “Uncovering the Mystery” similarly invites us to come closer and sit together in life and faith’s countless question marks, in the hope that new understanding and new life is just around the corner, waiting to be revealed. We’re so happy to welcome students back to campus this fall, and welcome all to come be a part of all that’s going on in campus ministries! 

 

We Welcome You to Meet Our CCV Staff!

If you haven’t heard of the Christensen Center for Vocation before, we are a center that equips and accompanies students, staff, faculty, and ministry leaders as they engage in vocational discernment around how we are called to show up as neighbor in the world. 

We are a team that is passionate about our work and strive to create an environment where everyone can show up as their full beloved selves. We love visitors that come by to say hi! We are located in Memorial Hall 233 and are always prepared with coffee/tea and snacks! Get to know our awesome staff below! 

Jeremy Myers, PhD   (he/him) Jeremy Myers and Kristina Fruge in the CCV office. Jeremy is giving a thumbs up and Kristina is smiling with a laptop in her arms.

Executive Director, Christensen Center for Vocation

Bernhard M. Christensen Professor of Religion and Vocation

Describe your remote from home set up: When I need to be presentable, I set my laptop on our piano which looks out a large window with good light and have lovely bookshelves behind me. But then I constantly have to resist the urge to tickle the ivories during Zoom meetings. Other times I’m on my front or back porch. Either way the dog is sleeping somewhere nearby.

You’re called to do something brave, but your fear is real and stuck in your throat.  What’s the first thing you do? I place my right hand on my chest over my heart, close my eyes, and take a long deep breath.

Give us a snapshot of an ordinary moment in your life that brings you great joy? Each morning I will have a cup of coffee either outside or near a window. This is my time to practice awareness and presence. I force myself to not check email or social media. I allow myself to just notice the cup of coffee.

What is something you have learned from a pet? We have a flat-coated retriever named Shadow. He is beautiful and goofy. They are known as the Peter Pan of the dog world, eternal puppies. Everytime he sees us come into the house – even if we were gone for 10 minutes – he will act like he hasn’t seen us in years. I would like to greet all my friends and family with that much joy.

What are your favorite things about fall? My favorite things about fall – noticing the leaves change as  I cross the Mississippi River each day, fires in the backyard, cooler weather, and everything seems to slow down.

Kristina bending down picking rocks on the Seattle coast. Kristina Frugé   (she/her)

Continue reading “We Welcome You to Meet Our CCV Staff!”

You are invited: “From Nowhere to Now Here” Christensen Symposium 2022

Jeremy Myers in front of a group of people in the chapel teaching. FROM NOWHERE TO NOW HERE

Jeremy Myers, PhD, Bernhard M. Christensen Professor of Religion and Vocation, Augsburg University

Join us for this year’s Christensen Symposium where we will dig deeper into the topics of vocation and public church.

Thursday, September 22
11 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Foss Center, Hoversten Chapel

The pandemic, rampant racism, unfettered injustices, environmental degradation, inflation – these are a few sources of the overwhelming sense of despair in our lives. We are anxious about our future. We desperately seek meaning, purpose, justice, and the common good but they seem to be nowhere in sight. Nowhere. But there is hope and potential for change if we can focus on the here and now. All we are promised is the here and now, and it is where we are called to live our lives. Now. Here.

Jeremy Myers is the Bernhard M. Christensen Professor of Religion and Vocation and the Executive Director of the Christensen Center for Vocation at Augsburg University. Myers earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of Minnesota and his master’s and PhD from Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota. He researches, writes, teaches, and organizes around the topics of vocation and public church. In addition to many articles and chapters, he is the author of Liberating Youth from Adolescence published by Fortress Press and is also a sought-after speaker. He has secured millions of dollars in grants to support the work of the Christensen Center for Vocation at Augsburg.

Our MAS Partner Nick Tangen “Let’s Get Real”

Last year, Augsburg University’s Riverside Innovation Hub and The Minneapolis Area Synod (MAS) both launched opportunities for congregations to be a part of a two-year learning community. We both are in the middle of the work with our first cycle of a two-year learning community. Over the last year and half, it has truly been a joy spending time learning with each other and from each other’s work. A highlight has been reading each other’s reflections and writings on how we engage in this work of being neighbor in our places and world.

This week, we want to highlight the most recent reflection Nick Tangen wrote “Let’s Get Real” from his experience at the ELCA Churchwide Assembly in Columbus, Ohio. He extends to us the invitation to join in the messiness, the vulnerability and realness that comes with wrestling with “What will need to die and rise again in order for each of us as the ELCA to embrace the reconciliation Jesus has set us free to participate in?”. We are grateful for this partnership and for Nick and his team to be in the work alongside us.

Stone arch bridge during the day background with gray box and "Do we want to be good or real?"“Retamoza’s words have been with me all week. In some ways this challenge captures so clearly my own discomfort with the work of the Assembly; did we want to be good or real? This is, I think, a real tension for us as a church – at all three expressions. It’s a tension ongoing for myself. I know my own desire to appear good, to fall into the trap of perfectionism and performance, and I know how limiting that is when trying to root out injustice and inequity in our life together.

This invitation into the vulnerability, the messiness, and the real-ness of confession and reconciliation stood in such stark contrast to the Assembly. The carefully curated plenaries with the steady march towards resolution felt oddly incongruous with the challenge to deeply listen to the cries of prophetic grief. While I am grateful for the provisions and memorials that the Assembly approved, it was the lament and experience of prophetic grief in worship and from the leaders of Iglesia Luterana Santa Maria Perigrina that my heart continues to return to. I feel both profoundly determined and deeply anxious about the church that I love.”

Read the entire blog post here on the Minneapolis Area Synod blog!

EZEKIEL AND THE PUBLIC CHURCH: EVERYTHING WILL LIVE WHERE THE RIVER GOES

by Ellen Weber and Jeremy Myers

Throughout this summer as we have gathered folks together around our work, the text from Ezekiel 47 continues to be a way to ground us before we begin. As our work shifts, taking time to remember these words re-grounds us in why public church matters through Ezekiel’s vision of God’s abundance.

Ezekiel’s Vision (Ezekiel 47:1–12, NRSV)

Individual stepping in water that is flowing by the side of a half-wall by the riverside. 1 Then he brought me back to the entrance of the temple; there, water was flowing from below the threshold of the temple towards the east (for the temple faced east); and the water was flowing down from below the south end of the threshold of the temple, south of the altar. 2 Then he brought me out by way of the north gate, and led me round on the outside to the outer gate that faces towards the east; and the water was coming out on the south side.

3 Going on eastwards with a cord in his hand, the man measured one thousand cubits, and then led me through the water; and it was ankle-deep. 4 Again he measured one thousand, and led me through the water; and it was knee-deep. Again he measured one thousand, and led me through the water; and it was up to the waist. 5 Again he measured one thousand, and it was a river that I could not cross, for the water had risen; it was deep enough to swim in, a river that could not be crossed. 6 He said to me, ‘Mortal, have you seen this?’

Then he led me back along the bank of the river. 7 As I came back, I saw on the bank of the river a great many trees on one side and on the other. 8 He said to me, ‘This water flows towards the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah; and when it enters the sea, the sea of stagnant waters, the water will become fresh. 9 Wherever the river goes, every living creature that swarms will live, and there will be very many fish, once these waters reach there. It will become fresh; and everything will live where the river goes. 10 People will stand fishing beside the sea from En-gedi to En-eglaim; it will be a place for the spreading of nets; its fish will be of a great many kinds, like the fish of the Great Sea. 11 But its swamps and marshes will not become fresh; they are to be left for salt. 12 On the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing.’

Ezekiel’s vision becomes an invitation to follow God’s jubilee as it flows into the world and and makes everything live where it flows. The Public Church Framework (below) provides faith communities with a way to do this, to become blessings for the entire land on which they are rooted rather than existing to serve their own purpose. We are Ezekiel, following the enigmatic divine tour guide along the river as we learn to see the breadth and depth of God’s love flowing away from the temple and into the world. Continue reading “EZEKIEL AND THE PUBLIC CHURCH: EVERYTHING WILL LIVE WHERE THE RIVER GOES”