Colossians explored


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Melissa Florer-Bixler

Book of Colossians explored during Bluffton Spiritual Life Week with Melissa Florer-Bixler

With Colossians 3:4, “When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you will also be revealed with him in glory,” serving as their verse and pastor Melissa Florer-Bixler serving as their guide, the Bluffton University community explored the theme “Jesus: More than a Feeling” during Bluffton University’s semiannual Spiritual Life Week.

“We wanted to look at our relationships with Jesus as being more than a feel-good thing,” explained Tig Intagliata, campus pastor. “The week was about learning to live like Jesus in the world. To live the love and grace of Jesus in the world. To be the presence where there is hurt and injustice in the world.”

Spiritual Life Week events ranged from a worship under the stars to special Forum and Chapel presentations and a conversation about creating safe spaces in the church. Florer-Bixler, an author and the pastor of Raleigh (N.C.) Mennonite Church, led many of the events and spoke in several classes including Biblical Worldview and Becoming a Scholar.

“I think by choosing the Book of Colossians, the Spiritual Life Week Committee opened us up to thinking about a creation that has been redeemed by Jesus that we may live into. There’s no must,” explained Florer-Bixler paraphrasing theologian Karl Barth. “Barth uses this language that there is no must in the good news, and when we realize that, it actually pretty dramatically shifts things in our world.”

During her presentations, Florer-Bixler focused on those types of shifts, especially as they relate to crime and punishment, the judicial system and the work of new restorative justice initiatives in Raleigh.

Florer-Bixler also spent time with students who are discerning calls to seminary and ministry.

“I’ve had some really good and deep conversations with students this week,” said Florer-Bixler, who recalled her early college years as a time of upheaval and questioning. “I wanted to be present to the students’ questions and share with them that sometimes there aren’t answers to their questions, but there will always be people to hold them with you, and I am here to hold them with you now.”

The campus community also welcomed Ted & Company for a performance of “We Own This Now,” a look at how the Doctrine of Discovery (a legal framework that justifies theft of land and oppression of Indigenous Peoples) is still being used and causing harm today. The performance served as a starting point for further conversation into the relationship between owning something and taking responsibility. 

A second Spiritual Life Week will be held at Bluffton University in spring 2020. Students play a major role in planning activities that help strengthen growth and faithfulness in their relationship with God. The week includes guest speakers and special times of worship.

 Previous themes have included “Reimagining the Church,” “Rising from Darkness to Light,” and “Living and Trusting the Word of God.”