It can happen to businesses. It can happen to universities. It can happen to churches. This well-known university has the following mission statement:
“To be plainly instructed and consider well that the main end of your life and studies is to know God and Jesus Christ.”
After its founding in 1636, the university emphasized the building of moral character and placed a strong emphasis on equipping ministers to share the good news of Christ. Every diploma contained the words: “Christo et Ecclesiae Veritas” meaning “Truth for Christ and the Church.
80 years after its founding, a group of New England pastors felt that Harvard had drifted too far from its original mission. They, with the help of a wealthy philanthropist named Elihu Yale, launched a new college. Yale’s motto was “Lux and Veritas,” (truth and light).
Although their reputations for academic excellence are respected world-wide, neither school reflects the intent of their founders today. At the 350 anniversary of the founding of Harvard, Steven Muller, a former president of John Hopkins University shared these profound words: “The bad news is the university has become godless.” A former president of Harvard admitted, “Things divine have been central neither to my professional nor to my personal life.”
Both schools were clear in their goals: Christian formation and academic excellence. They were both victims of mission drift.
This Sunday we celebrate the third great feast of the Christian year: Pentecost. Christmas celebrates the birth of Christ, Easter celebrates the Resurrection of Christ, and Pentecost is all about God’s power blowing life, energy, and mission into the early church.
May God inspire us this Pentecost Sunday to stay true to our mission: to be the Church and step out into the world, carrying the love and light of Christ to everyone!