Saturday, October 8, 2011

Reflections on New Treasures As Well As Old at Trinity

An article I wrote for Trinity Lutheran College's magazine "The Advance".

New Treasures … As Well As Old

Reflections on this year’s chapel theme by the Rev. Erik Samuelson, Campus Pastor and Director of Spiritual & Vocational Formation

This year’s chapel theme is “New Treasures As Well As Old,” based on Matthew 13:52: “Every scholar who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of their storeroom new treasures as well as old.” It’s a particularly fitting verse for Trinity at this phase in our life—having been through an amazing amount of transition over the past few years as we’ve seen expanded academic programs, the addition of intercollegiate athletics, another move of our campus (this time to my hometown of Everett), and many new faces.

I’m one of the new faces, having joined the Trinity family this spring in the new role of “Campus Pastor,” a position created in part because of another new treasure of the past few years: non-Christian students who have been lead to faith in Jesus Christ through their participation in this community. And the “new treasures” continue as we seek to double our student body over the next four years and, thanks to a gift from a generous donor (see pg. 3), embark on an amazing project to turn the Campus Center’s fifth floor into a center for worship and art.

This is a new treasure I’m particularly excited about. By bringing together the arts and worship, with a cutting edge flexible worship space that integrates technology, our students will have a one-of-a-kind learning laboratory to engage in worship leadership, to bring together new and old, and to push forward toward what worship will look like in the generations to come. I think the work we will do in this new space will be transformative—to the students, to our college, and to the Church.

Yet with all this newness, some things haven’t changed. The “old treasures” of Trinity remain and, in fact, are continually being renewed. We continue our commitment to Bible-centered education, service learning, and mission work at home and abroad. We worship, pray, and study scripture together. And we continue to hold central to the Lutheran Christian emphasis of vocation as we fulfill our purpose of equipping leaders to serve Jesus Christ in the Church and the world.

As I’ve been privileged to hear the story of Trinity/LBI, and especially the stories of our alumni, it’s clear to me that while the look and feel of how we operate may be changing (Athletes! Technology! An urban setting! Non-Christian students!), in many ways our heritage is one that calls us to be just a few steps ahead of the Lutheran Church, looking forward to where God is leading us and helping to draw the whole Church more fully into that future. We’re doing as those who came before us have done—seeking to make the Gospel come alive to every person and every generation, and to challenge the Church to keep focus on its mission to make disciples.

At the turn of the century, the founders of the Lutheran Bible Institute gave young adults the opportunity to delve deep into the Bible before college or career at a time when few other Lutherans were doing that. Other generations were ahead of the curve of their day as they led the charge with Lutheran global mission, charismatic movements, training lay people for ministry, and even (ack!) guitars in worship. We’ve seen the value of deep familiarity with the Bible, of uniting head, heart, and hands, and of equipping young people (and not so young people) to live out vocations in the Church and in the world. These “old treasures” continue to be central in the life of Trinity Lutheran College today.

Our theme verse comes as a parable Jesus gives to his disciples following a day full of lectures in parable form where he took familiar images and familiar concepts about how God works and how the world works, and turned them on their head. “The Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed … like a treasure buried in a field … like yeast mixed in with flour.” Jesus intentionally put the new and the old, the clean and the unclean, the familiar and the shocking together to describe the Kingdom that God is bringing about in the world, and he instructed his disciples to do the same.

Our task as Christians—all of us—is to continually dig deep into the treasures of the faith and to engage these treasures in new and often surprising (if not shocking) ways. Trinity continues in this work that we’ve inherited, and I hope that you’ll become even more fully involved in it.

If you haven’t been to our Everett campus, or haven’t been in a while, come and check it out. You’ll be blown away by all the new treasures, and I bet (if you keep your eyes open) you’ll see old treasures emerging as well. Join us for lunch during the week or join us for chapel worship on Monday, Wednesday, or Friday. If you’d like to hear more about Chapel, our fifth floor worship space, or anything else about the new or old treasures to be found at Trinity, please seek me out. I’d love to hear your story, too.

Samuelson can be reached at 425.249.4726 or His mailing address is Trinity Lutheran College, 2802 Wetmore Ave., Everett, WA 98201.