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'I Am Not Alone on My Christian Journey'

Emmaus students reflect on doing life together

By Megan Jonas

Last fall, 13 students from a range of backgrounds formed a Christian living-learning community through the new Emmaus Scholars Program. Sponsored by campus ministry, the yearlong program integrates spirituality, theology and justice.

"My vision for Emmaus is to create an intentional community that helps teach students what it means to follow Jesus," director Derek Taylor '08 says. "We move learning into the context of community, and we embody our learning as we gather to eat, pray, serve, play and simply do life together."

Students kept journals reflecting on their experiences, and as the following excerpts show, doing life together Emmaus-style is challenging but also richly rewarding.

"The first morning session left me feeling a little intimidated. I realized the vulnerability and dramatic change that joining the community would entail, and I felt insecure and unprepared around people who already had an active prayer life, daily encounters with Scripture, and a general aura of having their stuff together."

Henry Johnson '23
Spanish and Peace Studies Double Major

"I got my first turn in leading evening prayer, and I was riddled with anxiety. I have never been in a communal faith environment before. I must remember that praying communally is not substantially different than praying alone, and my audience truly doesn’t change. I am still just communicating with God, and that is all that matters at that moment, even if I’m in a room with my peers."

Kylie Vera '22
Political Science and Theology Double Major

"In some ways, cooking for 14 people feels exactly like interceding for someone. Cooking is labor on behalf of someone’s physical need to eat, which is what interceding for someone means! It is such a joy to know we are a community that has formal means of practicing intercession for one another. I take these meals as a foretaste of our future."

Ezekiel Pierson '22
Computer Science Major

The Emmaus members gather for community dinners every Sunday.

"About half of us had a significant discussion on how we can have better conversations in class and serve each other better. It was frustrating – the problems we’re trying to solve are difficult and have roots deeper than we can fully tackle in a year. We come from diverse backgrounds and Christian foundations. It was also exciting – an opportunity to think about what others need and how we as a community can come together to support them."

Eli Min '21
Computer Science Major

From left: Kylie Vera '22 and Kit Haley '22

"I'm learning to understand how privilege impacts perceptions of hope, renewal and growth in our community. Those who already feel as though they have much don't need to hope for God’s kingdom to come quickly, and that's why it's difficult for the proverbial rich man to get into heaven. It strikes me that the way the rich man can learn how to wait with sorrow, anticipation and hope is in loving his neighbors. By seeing the suffering in this world and in the lives of those around him, and working toward a greater tomorrow, the rich man can learn how to crave the coming of the kingdom of God."

Eli Min '21

"Being close to people and in the community is hard. It's awkward, our mistakes and differences get tangled up, and when someone close hurts you, it hurts bad. But love, vulnerability, relationships and fellowship all require community and being close to others. It’s definitely a risk because no one wants to see things go poorly, but we have to risk conflict to move forward."

Anonymous

"I'm usually very engaged and vocal in discussions, but in Emmaus, I am listening much more than I usually do. I'm humbled. I know so little. I appreciate so much more what others have to say and how much I learn from simply listening. Different perspectives and traditions come together to interrogate difficult ideas or attempt to answer complex questions. Diversity adds to the richness of learning, and it's difficult to imagine such good discussions with monolithic views of faith."

Anonymous

"During quarantine [for potential COVID-19] I felt a growing disconnect not only from Emmaus as a whole, but even from my housemates. This is why I have been encouraged so much by the increase in interaction with our Emmaus family this week. This time has served as a reminder that I am not alone on my Christian journey, but I have partners and supports all around me; a loving community I am blessed to be a part of and should not take for granted."

Caleb Rosen '23
Spanish and Peace Studies Double Major

 

"I feel as though I'm becoming more invested in this idea of Christian community over time. It no longer feels like just a form of commitment, but also a form of care, genuine care, and it feels exciting to be a part of."

Eli Min '21

 

 

Catherine Tobey

'A New Day'

Derek Taylor '08

Bringing learning to life, putting faith into practice

Bearing Witness in Unique Ways