EDMONTON – On November 25, the staff and students of Concordia Lutheran Seminary officially returned to the seminary building. The building had been closed following a November 12 fire in the library basement.
“Psalm 137:3 reflects the spirit of what we’ve gone through,” explains seminary President James Gimbel in a recent letter. “Like those in Babylonian exile, it is hard to ‘sing one of the songs of Zion … in a foreign land.’ It just isn’t the same. Yet we are thankful that we can sing praise to God, who is everywhere, from anywhere.”
“In Ezra’s day, when the rebuilt (second) temple was seen by those returning from exile, there were two kinds of tears: those of joy over the return and restoration mixed with and indistinguishable from the tears of sorrow in the memories of what had been lost (Ezra 3:13),” he continued. “We may have a mixture of tears as well. We are back home, but it isn’t yet quite the same.”
Among those things that are “not quite the same” is the library, which will likely remain closed for the rest of the calendar year and possibility into 2015. Study areas are also currently unusable as they are still being cleaned (the Eberhardt Room is being made available for study space when it is not being used for class). And while some of the supplies in the food pantry were clean and useable, other items were not salvageable. Still, “God has provided,” President Gimbel noted. “He will re-provide.”
The seminary community takes comfort in the knowledge that God is in control of all situations, even this one. “I am confident that God has used this for growth and good, whether we see blessing in its outcome today or not,” President Gimbel explained. “As always, things for God’s people ultimately point to Christ, who “did not consider equality with God as something to be grasped, but humbled himself” (Philippians 2:6) to come to earth, displaced for us. He was tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15); He will help us in our time of need.”
Read the full letter from President Gimbel here.