Bus Ride Theology

30 Jan

Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.

-Oprah Winfrey

I’d rather go by bus.                        -Prince Charles

With apologies to the NCMA Blog master, I couldn’t write this until this morning.  It wasn’t that I forgot, or didn’t allow enough time, or not know what I wanted to write about.  I needed to spot the herd of deer on the Hartman Reserve hillside on this beautiful Saturday morning on my way home from breakfast with my 86-year-old neighbor.  And I think I needed to watch The Parking Lot Movie and see through the window of a tiny parking lot attendant’s shack into an unexpected and unknown world.  And I needed to ride the city bus more.

When I ride the bus more than I drive, I think I do ministry better.  When I drive, I have a tendency to over commit and over schedule.  When I drive I get irritated at the other drivers and those damn pedestrians who don’t cross at the cross walks.  When I drive, I live as if it’s all about me-my schedule, my convenience.  I don’t like it that way.  When I ride the bus, I fit my schedule to theirs.  I find interesting people.  I have time to read sometimes.  Almost always, I’m blessed in some way.

A student taking a sociology class recommended the Parking Lot Movie to me.  It wasn’t on my Netflix queue.  But after watching it, my eyes are opened to a totally new world.  Could Jesus have been one of the parking attendants?  How cool would that be?

This morning on my way home from breakfast, I could have been in a hurry to get home to get this written and submitted.  I could have prepared for next weekend’s workshop on  “Surviving the Controversies” at the conference youth retreat.  I could have done a lot of things.  But I would have missed the joy of the deer on snowy hillside on a beautiful morning.  And even more, I would have missed the pleasure it brought to my neighbor, who is getting used to not being able to drive any more.

I find that one of the most frustrating parts of campus ministry is how easy it is get drawn into the urgency and rapidness and importantness and instantness that are inherent in what we do.  We only have 16 weeks.  We only have 1-4 years with our students.  We need to do more evangelism so we can get more young adults saved right away.  We need to hand out more water bottles to show more numbers so we can justify our ministry to our judicatories.

And there is a lot happening in the lives of those with whom we serve and minister.  No doubt.  And there are tremendous opportunities.  And we do have to be nimble and responsive.  No doubt.

But, I find some of the greatest moments in campus ministry, and really in life, have come when I do things that create space for the unexpected.  Dare I say sacramental?  Actually, I need to ride the bus to create room for God.


David plays bass trombone in the Cedar Valley Big Band, is past chairperson of the Metropolitan Transit Authority Board and has served as the Campus Minister and Director of the Wesley Foundation at the University of Northern Iowa for 16 years.  After graduating with a  BS in Education from Bowling Green and a MDiv from G-ETS, he has served  UMC congregations in the Iowa Conference since 1985.  Meeting his wife Jaymee in seminary, together they are parents of daughters Allyn and Magee.  Despite growing up in a campus ministry family, both have been involved in the campus ministry/religious life of their respective college and universities.


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