Students take classes designed to overlap each other throughout our HUG semester. Including the study of historical humanities, modern cultures, Bible, and communication, our classes are designed to run together. We present them as a plate of spaghetti and contrast that image with one of steak and potatoes; steak and potatoes go well together, but they are entirely separate things. Instead, our classes are purposefully molded together inside at the classroom lectures and during our experiential learning when we're out and about.
On our current Northern Greece tour, we make stops in ancient Philippi, Basilica of Saint Lydia, Aristotle Square and the agora and the Fair Gate and the Holocaust Memorial in Thessaloniki, the Tribute to Paul and the Jewish synagogue in Berea, and the tomb of Philip II in Vergina. At each site and during the bus rides in between, our favorite Greek guide, James, fills our ears and heads with information and images of ancient times. On top of our classroom time on campus, James explains the writings of the Bible in its original language and in its cultural setting. Opportunities for learning are abundant. We hear about a few language issues that have been mistaken in translation. There are Greek and Roman and Jewish nuances that we simply don't know because of our own distance from that world. The audience to whom Luke writes Acts is different from the 21st century American individual. Those people would have known these language and cultural customs and understandings that we must be taught. Sticking out to me today is the discussion of the Roman centurions in Jesus' time. These aren't just common Roman soldiers. There were leaders among the strongest army and government of the day. Their men were loyal to them. During mid-day, if a centurion said, "It's midnight," then his followers loyally reply, "The sun must be wrong." The centurions were highly respected and their word was held as truth. Therefore, a centurion who wanted Jesus to heal his daughter or a centurion who stated, "Surely this was the Son of God" carried a bit of weight in those times. I wonder how many people were influenced by Cornelius. I wonder how God uses those who, at times, think they are unworthy or incapable of being used to do His will because of their own sin or their own self-doubt. We need to refocus - not on ourselves - but on Him.
This semester is about stretching, learning, being open, being exposed to differences, challenging each other, and becoming sharper and more aware - of different people, different thoughts, different ways of living and loving those around us. May we all focus outward as we enter our semester studies and adventure around this world together, expanding our minds and hearts along the way.