“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33b).
“Institutions are the lengthened shadows of great men and women” (adapted from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essay, Self-Reliance). Bertha Munro (1884-1974) was the great woman who cast just such a shadow and Eastern Nazarene College in Quincy, Massachusetts was, and is, the institution. She was a Christian higher education administrator, writer, speaker, and lay theologian, as well as a beloved professor, a dominant academic voice, and a driving force in the liberal arts tradition. She articulated a core ideal of holiness higher education that continues to inform the Christian university enterprise: “There is no conflict between the best in education and the best in Christian faith.”
Professor Munro’s words were more than sloganeering. They were the warp and woof of an epic era in Nazarene education that gave rise to an enviable college and university system with an unapologetic denominational identity. Additionally, her influence spread beyond the classroom to the entire Nazarene constituency through her classics, Truth for Today and Strength for Today.
From her collected works, I have taken some of her most inspirational insights and organized them around her signature philosophy of life: “Not somehow, but triumphantly.” Thus, the intent is to introduce Bertha Munro to a new generation of Nazarenes. So, grab your cup of coffee and spend a few moments with one of our denomination’s outstanding laypersons and formative leaders in higher education.
A tiny plaque once caught my attention and now claims my faith: Not somehow, but triumphantly. The slogan belongs to every Christian, young and old. It is the legacy of Christ to us: “Take heart! I have overcome the world.” We live in a troubled world, but we can experience the peace of Christ—Not somehow, but triumphantly!
Christians are not expected to muddle through. They are expected to face life head on—and triumph. There is always a right way. There is the right way to meet every circumstance of life; and if we take the right way, we shall without fail be victorious in the long run, whatever the immediate outcome—Not somehow, but triumphantly!
Life’s difficulties are not watered down to fit our ability. The problems are not given us already solved, nor even with answers appended. Christians are not spared troubles. They are thrown into a world of confused standards and irritating people and overwhelming temptations, and are told to live like Christians—Not somehow, but triumphantly!
Prayer for the week: Father, give me the courage to live like Jesus in a world hostile to grace. Let me experience Christ’s peace in these troubled times. Amen.
Merritt Nielson has a ministry career spanning 50 years including being former Director of Curriculum for Sunday School Discipleship Ministries. He currently serves as Constituent Engagement Manager for Nazarene Compassionate Ministries.
Written for Coffee Break with Holiness Today.