Jesus said: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid (John 14:27).” These words occasionally reign in our hearts during troubling times. Jesus shared them with his disciples as he planned to surrender himself to the cross. The phrase “do not let your heart be troubled or afraid” has always haunted me in times of great difficulty. Here the Prince of Peace has given us a spirit of peace and exalts us to allow it to rule in our hearts and minds.
I grew up in the south during the civil rights era. I have seen things and have experienced things I rarely share in public. My solution when I graduated from high school was to go as far north as possible, hoping to find some civility while attending college. I traveled from Virginia to Maine in hopes of finding space to breathe, only to discover the turmoil that met me upon arrival. It was here where I discovered the peace of God in the mist of anxiety. The one way not to allow my heart to be troubled was in thinking on the blessings that had surrounded me all my life. The blessing and privilege of attending college, with all the opportunities that education would provide in the future. I covenanted with a Christian friend to remind me to give thanks when I was tempted to complain or criticize. Each day we attempted to change the lenses through which we saw the world by reminding ourselves of Philippians 4:4-8: “whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely and admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think on these things.”
Next year is the 75th anniversary of the university. This is an opportunity for us to think on the goodness of God in the past and his grace and mercy in our future. The anniversary year is an opportune time to celebrate all the virtues and accomplishments of alumni, students, faculty and staff. It is also an occasion to communicate the possibilities for our future. We are inundated by the negative on every side. Angst, violence, aggressive disputes, retaliation and abuse appears to be the norm of the day. Maybe this is an opportune moment to communicate our contribution to the positives that are happening in the Central Valley and our legacy abroad.
I am attaching a planning guide for the 75th celebration which was vetted in the last meeting of the FPU Board of Trustees. The guide provides only a framework for our work over the next year. We are inviting all to participate by bringing their ideas and energy to this endeavor. We will host several forums and assign committees and subcommittees to facilitate these events. We invite our faculty, staff and students, also our alumni, friends and partners to participate in the planning and delivery. Our hope is that this work together will help us adjust our lenses to see that which is true, noble, admirable, right and lovely. Our work together will help us to nurture peace in the mist of turmoil all around us. We need everyone to walk with us as we do this work.