“We have all known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes with community.” Dorothy Day
“Healing is impossible in loneliness; it is the opposite of loneliness. Conviviality is healing.” Wendell Berry
Four times a year the university has the tradition of coming together—two commencement services and two convocations. All four events are important in the life of the community. They should be intended to celebrate the beginning of the semesters and the outcome of our service during the semester—graduation. These special times can serve to strengthen our resolve to live as a Christ-centered loving community of hope. They serve as a celebration of our corporate efforts, and the opportunity to be humbled by our dependence on one another in doing God’s will.
Starting this year, we are changing the format of our convocations. We will no longer gather for the President’s or Provost’s Convocation, but for our community’s Fall and Spring Convocations. These will be sacred times for us to come together in offering thanksgiving and worship for the privilege of education, and the opportunity to serve the generations of the future.
If we seek biblical examples of this communion of honoring God, we see it in the holy convocations initiated by God for the community of Israel. The Hebrew for convocations is “miqra,” translated as rehearsal. These rehearsals were times “set-apart” or “sabbaths” to honor God. Each gathering had its purpose in unity and remembrance. Were these community rehearsals preparation for things to come? These prototypes in many ways express God’s heart for his people. A desire to see them worship in unity.
In the book of I Samuel (3:30), God says that “those who honor me, I will honor.” Were these special events opportunities to honor God? I think they were. At FPU we are committed to growing as a community that honors God. Therefore, at the beginning of each semester we will come together in a spirit of unity and love to celebrate God’s presence in our midst. This is our opportunity to offer thanksgiving for his gracious gift of community and all that we can expect in the future.
All offices will be closed and classes suspended for this one hour each semester when students, staff, administration and faculty come together to honor God. Faculty are not asked to wear regalia; there will be no special seating or recognition for any group and all are welcomed as members of our diverse community. Details of our gathering will be posted shortly.
One of Jesus’ last prayers for us and his disciples was: “…may they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” Just as Dorothy Day and Wendell Berry suggest, “love comes with community’’ and “conviviality is healing.” As we mature as a community of hope we trust that all—students, faculty, administration and staff—will experience the love of Christ. We can be assured that this love heals our hopes and comforts our fears.