At the end of each semester, students return home from 16 weeks of living the college reality. This is year is very different. The pandemic has shocked our social well-being in a way that will forever altar our behavior and norms. With that said, at the end of each semester during finals week, we share a lesson with our students called the "going home talk". I didn't invent it. When I was a student here, I remember someone sharing it with me. It has probably been revised, improved and remodeled many times. But the wisdom stays the same.
The first rule - worship where you are. The siren's call of the holiday break is to check out for four weeks and strive to hit a very high level of self-indulgence. We are on a break! The great temptation over any break is to disconnect at a high level because of the false-founded fear that the spring will be filled with an overwhelming battle and we must "live while we can!"
Two key words in the phrase are worth thinking about. First word: Worship. We must choose to use our holiday time in worship. The apostle Paul teaches us to offer our lives as a daily act of spiritual worship. Not just Sundays. Not just in campus ministry. Not just when we are around other Christians. We always worship. Always. We must come face to face with the answer to life's great question, "who will we worship?" Will we fulfill the greatest command with a focus on our Creator and Father who loved us first through his son, or will we just love ourself?
Second word: WHERE. College breaks take us to many different contexts. They are probably not the same church, same background, or same experience as our campus ministry. They may be more rural, more conservative, more progressive. Different in rhythm and personality. Be WHERE you are. Let the distinction and difference bless you and let your time be given to blessing those where you are. You will leave in a short time and return to the campus, they will stay and continue life together where they are. Leave as someone who renews and loves them.
The second rule - honor your father and mother. Being a student in campus ministry embeds us with a mindset that lives (and dies) by college life rules. We become almost sub-civil with our standards, sleeping habits, eating practices, laundry, cleanliness and more. We return home to our families and parents only to realize they have not been living the college dream life us. They still have 40 hour week jobs, go to sleep before 10pm and eat before 8pm. They clean the kitchen every day. They wash and fold laundry for a greater good. They don't want to watch a 24/7 video game experience.
What they truly want is to be able to engage in quality time and conversation with the children they have raised. They want to know how you are growing. What you are learning. Where God is leading you, challenging you and inviting you. They want to hear more than your GPA. They are listening to see what kind of person they have invested in. They are filled with a million experiences that are saturated in worry, prayer, anxiety, hope, fear, love, sacrifice, joy, and life through the countless hours invested in your journey. And they want to hear you and see you value their gift and stand alongside them as children of God.
The third rule - prepare to be sent. College life is filled with the opportunity to reset, resolve and renew! Like Oklahoma weather, if you are unhappy with it, just wait. It will change soon. Holidays are a time to assess your growth from the past semester and see how you will prepare for the next step. Ask yourself
What was God teaching me this past semester?
Where is God inviting me to take steps and grow in my faith?
What is ONE THING I will recommit to in my faith during the next semester?
Where is God asking me be sent in His kingdom this spring?
Worship where you are.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.