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Posted by on Apr 9, 2020 in Work | 0 comments

A Letter to the Denver Institute Community

A Letter to the Denver Institute Community

Dear Friends,

In the last four weeks, our work and our world have changed dramatically. Millions are now unemployed, nearly 3.5 billion people are confined to their homes, and each of us is trying to adjust to what feels like a different world. 

Two weeks ago, when I drove down Denver’s 17th Street, I was reminded of the prophet Jeremiah’s lament, “How deserted the city lies, once so full of people! How like a widow is she, who was once so great among the nations! … The roads to Zion mourn, for no one comes to her appointed festivals. All her gateways are desolate, her priests groan, her young women grieve, and she is in bitter anguish” (Lamentations 1:1, 4). 

In the last month, I’ve been on calls with dozens of people in our community. Business owners are shocked that they must shutter the doors of what they’ve worked to build for a lifetime; young professionals have been fired from what seemed like promising careers; families buckle under the pressure of school, work, and isolation. All of us are bewildered by uncertainty. Last week, as I walked through King Sooper’s and saw empty shelves and people wearing face masks, I wondered: what is happening to our world? Anguish is the right word.

But it is not the final word. 

Here at Denver Institute, we remain committed to forming men and women to serve God, neighbor, and society through their daily work. Our call — now more important than ever — is to love God, serve our neighbors, and demonstrate the gospel through our vocations.

As we think about this task, and each of us seeks to listen to God’s voice amidst such pain, it is my conviction that we must first begin not with society, but with ourselves. We must look squarely at the fear and anxiety clouding our senses, and then redirect our eyes toward Jesus, who is the Bread of Life (John 6:35). Each day, we must practice soul care for uncertain times and learn to give our anxieties to God, who cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). The Living Water is ever present to each of us, if only we will drink. We must first learn the spiritual practices and adjust our daily rhythms that will allow us to firmly rest in God’s unchanging love and care for each of us (Matthew 6:25).

Second, we must care for each other. As we all struggle with isolation, now is the time to be present, be vulnerable, and be hopeful. Whether it’s a coworker, a mother-in-law, or a single friend, we need each other. At Denver Institute, in the next 90 days, in lieu of events, we will host more online gatherings for business leaders, for women, for the brave souls in health care, and for those who work in a variety of industries. 

Third, to the best of our ability, we must keep working. We were designed for work. And though we are confined to our homes, and many of us are struggling with grief over work that has been lost, we recognize that work is good for our souls. As such, each day provides opportunity for paid and unpaid service to the common good. Searching for a new job, delivering food to a neighbor, doing homework with children, and doing sales calls — all are needed. The economy — and our neighbor — needs us to inhale the peace of God and exhale the creative goods and services that this brave new world needs the most. Though it feels like we’ve been carried into exile, now is the time to “build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce” (Jeremiah 29:5). 

Also, as we are bombarded daily with haunting news, we must aggressively limit our intake of media and learn to think theologically about our work and cultural moment. What is most needed in a situation without easy answers is wisdom. At Denver Institute, will continue to publish content and courses that reframe our work and our world in light of the biblical story

Finally, now is the time to serve. Now is the time to double down our generosity toward the causes we care most about; now is the time to serve others while physically distancing; now is the time to find innovative solutionsto serve our coworkers, neighbors, and family members. 

We are still here for you. If you have a need of any sort, please reach out to us. We are actively praying through how our programming might expand to better serve our city. In this season, we will commit to calling, praying, thinking, networking, teaching, learning, and finding ways to serve you in an unprecedented moment in our nation’s history.

This is a time to lament, but not to panic; a time to pivot, but not to stray from our core convictions; a time for public concern, but also a time to trust that Jesus is the savior of the world, and we are not. 

As we head into Holy Week, I’ve chosen to fast on Good Friday as I pray for our city, our country, and our world. Yet on Easter Sunday, my family and I will also go outside to our front porch, dial into “zoom” church, and sing a song of resurrection as the sun rises.

The world has changed, but our joy is unchanging. 

Your friend,

Jeff Haanen,
Founder & Executive Director
Denver Institute for Faith & Work

This letter first appeared in an email to the Denver Institute community. If you’d like to receive more updates from Denver Institute on articles, events, educational resources and other opportunities, please subscribe to the monthly newsletter.

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