That original Pentecost in the Acts of the Apostles, which we just celebrated, was a time of a new beginning, ushering the apostles into a new future and a new time (a time of the ‘church’ through the power of the Spirit). In many ways, I feel I am living within a similar Pentecost time, marked by a number of “new” beginnings:
Sabbatical year: This morning, I head to Uganda to begin a year of sabbatical! I intend to take significant time this year for rest, renewal and remembering. No better place to start this time than the holy ground of Malube!
Fellowship at Notre Dame. The Kroc Institute of International Peace Studies has named me a Fellow in the Contending Modernities Project. Notre Dame will thus be my sabbatical year “base” as I work on a special project: “Pursuing Reconciliation in Africa.” The project will involve travel and research in select African countries.
Transitions at the Center for Reconciliation: “Co-Founder & Senior Strategist” will be my new title (as of July 1) at CFR. My colleague Chris Rice will be Co-Founder and Director. In my new role I will continue to be deeply involved in shaping the vision, strategic direction, programs and content of the center.
As a new chapter begins in the work of the Center (“All Things New” – we have called this new chapter), it is fitting that earlier this month, Chris and I were back to the sacred ground of Trinity Center beach – where it all started, in December 2004, with the two of us walking the beach, dreaming about a center, and sharing convictions.
Looking back six and half years later, we are humbled for all we have been given! As if we needed a confirmation, on the drive back from Trinity Center, we received a call from the director of Stewardship Foundation with news of another significant grant to usher CFR into a new chapter. Another confirmation – a week later- was the third Summer Institute, which brought together close to 130 leaders from 23 states in the United States and fifteen other countries!!
If Pentecost is about new beginnings, it is also about gifts- the gifts of God’s Spirit, both past, present and promised. I am humbled by God’s many gifts as I am reminded of the words of Fr. Alexander Schmemann: “The young live, they do not thank. And only those who thank truly live” (The Journals, Aug 23, 1975). Speaking of gifts and gratitude, here are a few more I celebrate from the semester just ended -
- The visit to Duke Divinity and to my class on Readings in World Christianity of Andrew Walls, the famed theologian of mission. He spoke to us on “The Second Coming of World Christianity.”
- The honor of being invited to deliver this year’s Capps Lecture in Christian Theology at University of Virginia. You can read the lecture here.
Among Fellow Catholics, I read a paper on Performing Catholicity: Archbishop John Baptist Odama and the Politics of Baptism in Northern Uganda for the opening plenary of the Discourse of Catholicity at the De Paul Center for World Catholicism, Chicago, April 12.
- From Chicago, I flew to Portland Oregon to be with Quaker friends at George Fox University as the featured speaker for this year’s John Woolman Peacemaking Forum.
- And this past month, I preached at Capital Christian Fellowship, a Mennonite congregation outside Washington DC, on their International Day. You can read the sermon,”ODD Bodies“; and see some pictures of the event.
- And yet perhaps by far the most significant and certainly most delightful: spending Easter weekend with my nephew’s family in Cleveland. Their son William is the real deal!
So grateful for all your prayers, well wishes and support!