The rhythm of campus ministry carries deeper ebbs and flows than in an inter-generational congregation. There was a beautiful intensity to our ministry through finals week, our lounge brimming with snacks, our worship full of Christmas music and kazoos, and days filled with conversations about everything and nothing…. and then our students scatter. Immediately,
there is quiet. Both figuratively, giving our leadership team a bit of time to breathe. But also literally. The Lutheran Center is quiet, and strikingly so.
I’ve been asked what ministry looks like during this winter break, when classes are not in session, and our Lutheran Center programming goes on hold. I found myself responding to this question about winter break ministry with a: “Well, now I can actually get some work done.”
There’s a bit of truth to this. I have the schedule space to make visits with community supporters around the city and state. I can preach and worship around the synod. I can do some in-depth worship, travel, and program planning. But in responding that I can “actually get some work done now that the Lutheran Center is empty” is missing the point about the work we are called to do.
In our Lutheran tradition, we have a concept we call “liturgy.” We typically use “liturgy” to refer to our weekly musical setting for worship. But this word, liturgy, literally translates to “work of the people.” When we gather for worship, we are doing the divinely mandated work of being community. The heartbeat of the Lutheran Center is the relationships we form with one another; relationships that nourish one another in difficult times, support one another in our vocational callings, and love one another with the love Christ first offers us. Our liturgy, our work of the people, is found in the moments when time passes unaware through conversations, laughs, dreaming, and imagining together.
I have challenged myself to shift my language. Even in the moments when the to-do list is not checked off, holy work is happening. While, yes, the work we do when students are gone is important, it is not the heart of our calling. The heart of our calling, our liturgy, is in building relationships that reflect God’s beloved kin-dom, and supporting one another as we grow in our faith. Our liturgy is work worth doing.