Pray for New York
So I was out running the other day when a teenager rode up on a bike, stopped in front of me, and blurted out, “Do you know you look like Harrison Ford?”. I was surprised, to say the least, but am also realistic enough to suspect he was thinking Harrison Ford circa “Call of the Wild”, rather than “Indiana Jones”. I found myself gratified to be recognized (sort of), but I knew it wasn’t so. I reflected later that the incident reminded me of that deep desire to be noticed and to be of consequence at some level.
My thinking seems increasingly flat (clearly), but in the midst of this I nonetheless find Ephesians 3:20 to be an encouragement - because it pulls my imagination beyond my immediate circumstances toward what might be, or will be.
New York, as is true of much of the country, remains in lockdown for the 200th week - or so it feels. Days seem to run together and Zoom calls have long since lost their allure. Yet I find myself feeling a little fresher each morning as I spend some less hurried time in the Word reading familiar passages again and finding new nuggets all over. Whether I find myself in Ezekiel, or the Psalms, or the Epistles I am reminded that a) God and his promises are unchanging even though our world is, b) our calling to live faithfully, righteously and courageously remains the same regardless of my circumstances, and c) the world will be different because of his Spirit (mostly) and our efforts for his kingdom. All of these reminders renew my hope each day.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God.
-- Philippians 4:6
As chaotic a time as this, we are reminded to anchor ourselves to the hope of our faith - to rely not on our own devices, but dependent on the love and care of our Heavenly Father. Romans 5 and James 1 reveal to us that God consents to trials in our lives in part because of the fruits of patience, endurance, hope and faith that will spring from them. As a community we are intentionally holding fast to God’s promises through this time, choosing faith over fear.
CU New York has begun to participate in a 40 day fast with the Christian Union Day & Night team. As an organization we feel called to seek the Lord in prayer and fasting throughout this time. We desire His will to be done in our lives, our city, and our nation. We trust in His healing power and redemptive hand, that He is moving in this situation, ultimately bringing good from evil, and revealing His Glory through it all.
We have had a CU New York Forum planned for March 27 with Dr. Margaret Yoon on “Mental Health and the Holy Spirit”. While it is clear we cannot meet in the typical format of these events, we are working to move this to a virtual forum. This will still enable us to listen to and interact with Dr. Yoon on these important questions of how we, as Christians, wrestle with issues of burnout, anxiety, and depression at this time and in this busy city. More information on this will be sent separately, or you can check on our website.
For the financial services industry there are a few resources you might find helpful as you navigate this time both professionally and personally. The Ron Blue organization has developed Fearless: Market Turmoil and a Biblical Response, which has spiritual perspective, insights from industry leaders, and messaging points to help guide client conversations during this uncertain season. Please check it out if you’re looking for ideas.
We invite you to join us as we pray and fast in this season. Use this link to receive daily devotionals, and to participate in the CU Day & Night 40 day fast: (https://www.dayandnight.org/fast). We are praying for God’s protection, healing, mercy, peace, and authority to reign over our city and world. We invite His kingdom to come and His will to be done, in each of our lives. We submit our desires to control and to rely on our own understanding, but instead we will choose to submit to His authority, His wisdom as we trust in his peace.
And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.
- Col 3:15
Christian Union New York
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For more information on New York City Christian Union Bible Courses and activities, or resources available to you please contact Scott Crosby.
“Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses.”
-- C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory
The above quote from Lewis’ remarkable sermon, given in Oxford in 1941, is part of the argument to raise our understanding and practice of what it means to live out the job description God gave us in Genesis 1 and 2: to honor God, steward creation, and bless others. It's not always obvious to us that we’re made in the very image of God, and we certainly struggle with seeing others in that way.
One of my perennial resolutions in every new year is to read more deeply and profoundly about both faith and the world around me. However, given my suggestion in an earlier letter, I am moving from resolutions to building habits - they tend to be much more permanent.
Psalm 2 is a majestic description of Christ’s coming and rule. God gives the Psalmist the ability to look beyond earthly constraints and context to see a place of transcendent and righteous rule - whose kingdom reaches to the very ends of the earth. This vision of a righteous kingdom runs through the narratives of both old and new testaments, and motivates the events and initiatives we do in New York.
We’ve been encouraged with a full month of events, small group meetings and an array of initiatives both large and small. All of these reflect the on-going work of God in New York - a city not widely viewed as a hotbed of spiritual vibrancy, yet vibrant nonetheless with the Spirit working in individual’s lives, in and through churches, and with an increasing hunger for spiritual perspective and truth.
This summer the CU New York and CU DC teams were able to connect with, and grow alongside recent graduates and young professionals, many of whom are transitioning into the workplace or graduate programs. These young professionals represent a number of esteemed universities and are eager to mature and step out boldly in faith - in cities which are enormously influential in shaping our culture and norms.
In the past six weeks more than 630 students graduated from our university ministries to pursue graduate school or enter the workplace. From our first ministry at Princeton to our most recent at Stanford, and including our graduate ministry at Harvard Law school these young men and women are in the midst of exciting transitions - most of them into the workplace.