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From Chaplain Blackmon

A Pastoral Letter

March 19, 2020

Dear Campus Community,

Little did we know one week ago. Our lives have been turned upside down. The rapid rate of change and all the things happening all at once is dizzying. Our screens feature spiky graphs and exponential curves. Market volatility is leading to blown circuit breakers. We’ve even started referring to people as “positive or negative,” “young and old and at risk,” and as “vulnerable populations with comorbidities.”

I don’t know a single person for whom the pandemic has been easy. To make matters worse, we do not know the answers to all the human “what, when, where, why, how and now what” questions. Considering all our uncertainties, I’ve been taking life and ministry one day at a time. Jesus says in Matthew 6:34, “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

Jesus assumes there will be new challenges, new situations and new news coming out tomorrow that will be worrisome and difficult. In the King James Version Jesus says, “take therefore no thought for the morrow.”

I’ve often wondered how Jesus can seem to hold tomorrow’s challenges so loosely. I take lots of thoughts for the morrow, and you probably do, too.

What does Jesus know about God that makes him say we should not be anxious?

What does he know about the coming kingdom that gives him the audacity to say, “take no thought?”

For now, I will assume Jesus knows something about God that I don’t fully comprehend. Jesus must understand something about the kingdom that, if I were to know and understand it, living one worry free day at a time would be a perfectly normal response.

A.W. Tozer once said, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” I'd like to paraphrase this for our current circumstance: “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about the COVID-19 pandemic.”

In no way do I intend to minimize the importance of keeping abreast of all the recent developments and doing everything we can to stop the spread of this virus. It simply means that right now, the single most important thing to know about the challenges we face is that we have a heavenly Father who knows what we need, before we even know we need it. Our heavenly Father is willing and able to provide all things necessary for body and soul.

During this unusual season we want to help the people of Wheaton College live a deep and daily relationship with Jesus. Below I’ve outlined a few ways we hope to help.

The Chaplain’s Office is available to all students, staff and faculty for spiritual guidance, encouragement and prayer support during this tumultuous season. Please send a message to chaplains.office@wheaton.edu, and we will respond within 24 hours (or same day as much as possible) acknowledging receipt, and if requested will connect you with one of the following:

  • Graduate or Undergraduate Chaplain
  • Ministry Associate in the Chaplain’s Office, or
  • faculty member from the Christian Formation and Ministry department.*

Additionally, starting next Monday, March 23, we will broadcast three online gatherings here at the regular undergraduate chapel time, Mon/Wed/Fri at 10:40 a.m. CST, followed by once a week virtual chapels starting on Monday March 30. These are intended for our entire community of undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, and staff, to explore how we can live life with God during this pandemic. Lastly, starting on Monday, March 23, spiritual formation resources will be made available by way of a weekly e-newsletter for personal and virtual group use. We encourage you to prayerfully consider using these resources as a way to link arms – from a social distance – and jointly follow our Savior through the coming weeks, “standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything” (Phil. 1:27-28).

*Chaplain’s Office Ministry Staff

  • Rev. Tim Blackmon – Chaplain
  • Dr. Greg Anderson – Graduate School Chaplain
  • Marilyn Brenner – Ministry Associate for Care and Administration
  • Ray Chang – Ministry Associate for Discipleship
  • Kelly Urbon – Ministry Associate for Care and Counseling
  • Susie Cockle – Ministry Associate for Spiritual Formation

*Christian Formation and Ministry Faculty

  • Dr. Laura Barwegen
  • Dan Haase
  • Dr. Barrett McRay
  • Dr. Rob Ribbe
  • Dr. Jerry Root
  • Dr. David Setran

Please let us know how you are doing, how we can pray for you, and if it there is anything at all we can do to help you live life with God in the coming weeks and months.

Rev. Tim Blackmon
Chaplain | Wheaton College
501 College Ave. | Wheaton, IL 60187

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