Dr. Kirk D. Farney M.A. ’98 Vice President for Advancement, Vocation, and Alumni Engagement
I hope that you enjoy this issue’s feature, “A Story of Wheaton College in 50 Objects,” as much as I did. The objects chosen provide a representative panorama of Wheaton’s unique history since its founding in 1860. While compiling such lists are fun projects, they also tend to produce some mild disappointment as readers question why an object they felt was significant didn’t make the list.
The items listed are all within our physical possession and, in many cases, are truly treasured due to their relationship to our foundational leaders. With that in mind, and in light of this season of Advent and the approach of Christmas, I find myself wishing that we could add one other foundational object, but alas, we don’t have it in our possession. It’s a manger from a stable in Bethlehem.
For an educational institution established with “Christo et Regno Ejus,” “For Christ and His Kingdom,” as its motto, it is not an exaggeration to say that the Bethlehem manger was indeed a foundational object of the College. As the makeshift bassinet of the King of Kings, it held Wheaton College’s reason for eventually coming into existence. And it held the reason that, by God’s grace, we remain firmly committed to our mission.
That mission is not without challenges, and 2021 brought an abundance of them. As the year draws to a close, perhaps we would profit from contemplating the manger, the crude receptacle of the infant Lord of Hosts, even though it is not in Wheaton’s possession. As we do that, my prayer is that we are renewed in our awe of God’s willingness to embrace lowliness for our benefit. My prayer is that we are refreshed in our work “For Christ and His Kingdom,” as we are reminded that we continue the Kingdom work established in seemingly less-than-ideal circumstances long ago. My prayer is that we trust in God’s perfect plan, as Mary and Joseph did in the stable, without knowing all of its details.
The manger is certainly part of the story of Wheaton, even if it’s not part of our special collections.” May we each possess it, however, in the reliquaries of our hearts.