Throughout Scripture Christ reminds us that the end is near (especially at this time of year), and we should expect difficulty and challenges of all sorts, yet the resounding message of Scripture is that of God's promise to be with and strengthen the elect for such a day.
I anticipate that the Last Days will be far worse than these, and the impact will be global. Yet fire started by an intruder, relocations for classes and office spaces, minor schedule changes, heavy soot and smoke damage, massive cleanup and some loss, the outage of two rooftop heaters and one boiler pump and regulator, clogged/frozen sewer lines, cleanup containers in the parking lot, and the three-day snowfall of roughly 35 cm of new snow all accumulate to a small question, "how much, O Lord?"
Yet before those words are framed, God has already answered with the strength of His example in the Bible (Job, Daniel, Moses, Paul -- Jesus) showing His fidelity to the Promise of strength and peace.
On Tuesday, Nov 25, we moved back into the upstairs offices and chapel, the lower level classrooms and lunch area, and sectioned off a new study area. We are all glad to be back "home," and re-developing our routines.
The library and other areas within its footprint (the photocopy room, Eifert classroom, study tables and carrels, and Missionary Study center) are all cordoned off. As of today, most of the upstairs books have been dusted and removed for the remainder of the smell removal treatment. The stacks downstairs need to be dusted and treated, and then the shelving, lighting, ceiling tile, and carpet will be removed for painting and replacement.
With endings come new beginnings (the New Year ... the next life that is truly life). The major gutting provides us an opportunity to reconfigure our library and resource/study space, but we have scant little time to determine the next best layout and design. We will lose some of our books and periodicals, and will be broadening our titles for more e-resources without abandoning the traditional hard-bound resources. We are hoping for good information on the impact that ozone treatments (for smell) have upon the book binding glues (we don't want our pages falling out in five years).
Our chapel closet full of albs, paraments, and stoles is all at a specialty cleaner. So are linens and fabric portions of the displays from the Missionary Study Centre and Library. Our photocopy machine and most of our electronic equipment that was in the building are toast. The office and kitchen supplies have largely been thrown away by the reclamation team. The student food pantry was a loss except for canned goods, and some donated clothing has been tossed. We re-keyed the building and added a sign-in process as a first next steps in increased security.
And through it all, God is good. The text appointed months ago for the November 27 chapel reminded us to "enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise" -- we celebrated, and then followed up with a meal of thanksgiving after chapel (sponsored by faculty and staff).
No one has been injured. Our partnerships have deepened with the ABC District Office and staff and the CUCA connections across the street. Student formation continues to be as strong or stronger with the added challenges. Faculty and staff have risen to the challenges. And we are fully convinced that God has shown once again an example of how strong He is when we are weak, and what it means to "trust in God above all things," having eyes opened to see what He means by His promised ability to do "immeasurably more than all that we could ask for or imagine" (Ephesians 3:20-21).
Thank you for your prayers and support. Please continue to approach the throne of grace on our behalf ... for strength, resolution of many new challenges, faith-building courage and wisdom to face these tests and trials, guidance in re-design and construction, financial resources to fully recover and move forward, and ongoing commitment together in our ministry of "forming servants for Jesus' sake."
And we also realize that while our challenges have been unfolding, many others around the community, the Church, and global Christendom are facing far more difficult and trying challenges. We continue to pray for and support them as well. May God bless us all to to be united in spirit and commitment to be faithful to the end, through Christ the Victorious One. And together we pray, "Come, Lord Jesus, Come!"
God bless ...
Rev. James R. Gimbel, Ph.D., President
Concordia Lutheran Seminary, Edmonton