HIGH POINT, N.C., Dec. 8, 2017 – High Point University’s 47th Annual Prayer Breakfast rang in the Christmas season with a theme of new beginnings.
For the 800 community members who attended, like Sister Lucy Hennessy from Pennybyrn at Maryfield, the breakfast provided an opportunity to begin the holiday season and fellowship with one another.
“Enjoying the breakfast together with the community is why I came,” Hennessy said. “I love the music, the singing and the message. I look forward to it bringing Christmas back into the community each year.”
HPU President Nido Qubein, who welcomed the crowd, said the breakfast is one of many ways the holidays begin on the HPU campus.
“We believe in Jesus, we believe in America and we believe in the human spirit,” Qubein said. “This is why we celebrate Christmas. You can’t go around this campus without realizing it’s the Christmas season. There’s a Nativity on this campus. There are 145 American flags. This breakfast is an extension of our values.”
The university fed the community as the HPU Chapel Choir, directed by Dr. Elizabeth Doebler, assistant director of choral activities, treated the audience with Christmas music. Karen Jacobsen, HPU’s Global Artist in Residence who is known as “The GPS Girl” and the most downloadable voice in the world, performed a holiday medley and a duo with Dr. Marc Foster, chair of HPU’s Department of Music.
And Rev. Dr. Luke A. Powery, dean of the Duke University Chapel and associate professor of homiletics at Duke Divinity School, delivered a message about beginnings in the Advent season.
“As I think about the state of our world, I want to share something with you this morning about beginnings,” said Powery, who read from the Gospel of Mark. “In our lives, we search for a new beginning because who we are doesn’t match God’s intentions and God’s promises, and we recognize God’s intentions because we remember the past and the future of God’s mighty hands. We pray, ‘Oh, Lord, let me have a new spark. Let me try one more time.’ And when we remember the words of the Gospel of Mark, we realize there is a beginning for us.
“Advent says you can always begin again. No matter who you are or what you’ve done, this season we remember backward but we can also begin again and move forward, anticipating the word and the future.”
Powery noted that the Gospel of Mark uses the “wilderness” as a metaphor for its beginning, and that all beginnings don’t go as planned. The Israelites wondered in the desert for 40 years to find their new beginning, and Jesus was driven into the wilderness and tempted by Satan.
“This is how God has worked throughout history,” he said. “There are hard lessons to be learned for sure when you begin again. It can be difficult in the wilderness, a strange land and strange people and strange experiences. The wilderness shows us that you can’t begin as a means to escape the dry pain of the world. It is a sober reminder that you still have to deal with life and even the consequences of your past. Yet, the beginning of the good news is right where you are. Not away or around or outside, but in the wilderness.
“God is in the wilderness. He is a wilderness God who makes a way out of no way and a way through the wilderness. Walking human steps, experiencing our lonesome valleys, he is there with you so you can begin again with him.”