During the week of Nov. 3–7, 2014, we had the opportunity of hosting Pastor Ryan Dueck from Lethbridge, Alberta, on our campus for our Pastor in Residence Week, which takes place once each semester. During his stay with us, Pastor Ryan spoke at our weekly forum (a gathering which discusses different topics throughout the year, from sex trafficking to social media), preached at both of our chapel services, gave a session on blogging, and held two lunches, one for students interested in vocational ministry, and the other for all the CMU student leaders (student council, RAs, CAs, etc.). Pastor Ryan was also available throughout the week for students to sit down with him one on one in a less formal setting and ask him questions or simply talk things out about issues that had been on their minds.
I was able to attend both chapel services, as well as the leadership lunch. During the first chapel, Pastor Ryan gave a sermon entitled “Jesus Doesn’t Want You to Love Him for What You Can Get Out of Him (And Other Misguided Sentiments)” through which he discussed this idea using examples from his own faith story. I loved how he emphasized that we can and should love Jesus for exactly what we can get out of him: the strength we need when times are hard, the solid faith we need when living in a sceptical world, and the hope we need of His grace, just to name a few. This was a quite different view from what we often hear about, one where our self-sacrifice includes not loving what Jesus has to offer us. Instead, as Pastor Ryan said, we can love Jesus for exactly what we can get out of him, and what we can offer Him.
The second sermon Pastor Ryan gave while he was here was called “The Only Things That Matter in Life Cannot be Proved”. This was another very thought provoking title, and the message lived up to it! Pastor Ryan talked about how the things that are most important in our lives, like our faith and our emotions in our relationships with people cannot actually be proven, but could just as easily be attributed to entirely biological and chemical causes within us, and yet we believe them to be true. He talked about the importance of not whittling our faith down to whoever can find the most right answers, because then we will be missing the point, and not looking to what is really important in our faith and in our relationships with God and other people. I particularly loved this sermon, as he applauded learning (I mean we’re all at university, so that was a relief for many of us!) but also acknowledged the fact that there are some things that we will never be able to prove.
I also had the opportunity to be a part of the leadership lunch that took place during the week, which was a great opportunity to talk over specific issues and topics that have arisen among the CMU student leaders with someone of faith, but not from our own community. This aspect of the Pastor in Residence week is one of the primary reasons that we all, staff and students, really appreciate this week. Not only to we get to build relationships with churches from across Canada and the States, but we get to sit down with pastors from these churches and create personal relationships with them while hearing their point of view about things that are going on in our own lives and community!
Heather Muir is one of CMU’s Student Ambassadors