Seeking the peace & prosperity of our city
It is tradition at King’s for the President to speak at the first chapel of the new academic year. I chose to speak on a passage of scripture that is familiar to many. Jeremiah 29:11 made the top 10 most popular verses list on YouVersion (a bible app) in Canada, United Kingdom, and South Africa. The verse: “For I know the plans for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” is often used to reassure anxious graduates as they head out into life and careers.
At this beginning of the year, I think Jeremiah 29 has far more to say about preparing for a hope and future. It speaks to living into community, generous hospitality and commitment. We live in a disposable culture. It is easy to ‘unfollow’ or ‘unfriend’ someone who makes us uncomfortable. This is not the kind of community that people encounter at King’s. We strive to engage with difficult questions and topics with what Richard Mouw described as ‘uncommon decency’.
Seeking the peace and prosperity of our city means we have to care, to allow our hearts to be broken by the same things that break the heart of God – poverty, injustice, powerlessness, abuse. It is as Dr. Margie Patrick referred to in her Convocation address as living with a “broken open heart” and the courage to live in the gap. It is perhaps only when we look past our own anxious hearts, when we settle in, commit and seek the peace of those around us, that we find our own true vocation, our own hope and future.
May your heart be broken open this year,
Dr. Melanie Humphreys