Forever young in Christ
Campus ministry provides an opportunity to continue to reach the younger generation with the saving message of God’s grace.
Glenn L. Schwanke
The Supper is ready. The invitation to come forward has been given. I stand before the Lord’s altar holding the paten, the small plate that holds the consecrated wafers. I watch as the first table of communicants comes forward—when it hits me. They are all so young!
Those of you who know me might quip, “Well, you’re no spring chicken anymore. Fifty-year-olds probably look like kids to you.” Point well taken. But so many of the communicants coming forward aren’t 50, or 40, or even 30. They are in their late teens or early 20s. They are part of the Millennial Generation. They are college students, young men and women who are growing up in a world so different from the one I experienced at their age.
Millennials can’t remember a world without the Internet, personal computers, smart phones, GPS, and social media. From the time they were toddlers, they’ve heard terms like climate change and green energy. For many of them, 9/11 is ancient history that must be learned from textbooks. Al Qaeda and Bin Laden are yesterday’s news. Same-sex marriage is fast becoming America’s societal norm. Many, including some of those who stand behind the podiums in college classrooms, have abandoned the concept of absolute right and wrong.
And what about Christianity? Far too many ridicule all religion as nothing more than silly, ancient superstition—little more than road kill to be scraped into the ditch of modern life.
Surrounded by such a dense fog of conflicting thoughts, it’s a wonder that a single college student still comes to worship regularly. But they come, even though Mom and Dad don’t swoop into their dorm rooms on a Sunday morning to rouse them out of bed. These students fill our chapel. They listen attentively. They sing powerfully.
And they come forward to the communion table, heeding the age-old invitation: “Take and eat. Take and drink.” They come hungering and thirsting for that one meal where the menu never changes. “This is my body. This is my blood.” And like countless generations of Christians before them, they leave the table possessing a gift worth more than all the wisdom, power, and money in the world—“the forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:28).
So many pastors tell me how their congregations are graying along with them. “All the young people are moving away or staying away.” But I know of a place where young people still come. Actually, I know of many such places. It is happening in Campus Ministry, where your sons and daughters and your grandsons and granddaughters still come to learn about Jesus, who is “the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).
After all the other communicants have come forward, at last, it is my turn. The elder stands before me with the paten. As I kneel, one knee creaks. My lower back pops. My right shoulder throbs. But then I eat, and then I drink. And the distant triumph song of my Savior takes hold of my heart: “I am making everything new!” (Revelation 21:5).
Now the Supper is ended. The benediction is spoken. I look out at the congregation, and it hits me. They, we, are all so young. Forever young in Christ. The words of the psalmist ring true: “Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits— . . . who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s” (Psalm 103:2,5).
Glenn Schwanke, pastor at Peace, Houghton, Michigan, serves as campus pastor at Michigan Technological University.
Do you have a manuscript, idea, or story from your own life you’d like to share for use in Forward in Christ or on wels.net? Use our online form to share it to our editorial office for consideration.
Get inspirational stories, spiritual help, and synod news from Forward in Christ every month. Print and digital subscriptions are available from Northwestern Publishing House.
Author: Timothy J. Spaude
Volume 102, Number 4
Issue: April 2015
Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
Forward in Christ grants permission for any original article (not a reprint) to be printed for use in a WELS church, school, or organization, provided that it is distributed free and indicate Forward in Christ as the source. Images may not be reproduced except in the context of its article. Contact us