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What Is Green and White and Has 96,000 Legs?

August 24, 2011

I don’t know but…it’s crawling up your back!! Arghh, old bad joke – sorry. The real answer, framed in “Jeopardese” is, “The answer, Alex, is ‘what is the returning student population of Michigan State University?'” Maybe we’re a rookie or maybe an upperclass veteran. Maybe we’re inching our way up dorm stairs around somebody hauling a couch to the fourth floor. Or maybe we’re exploring that flush of freedom of the first off campus apartment even if it’s a hole that still has cave paintings from the last inhabitants. Maybe there’s even that eerie feeling of starting over as we begin grad school. Jesus Christ has two words for us. One is “Behold, I make all things new.” (Revelation 21:5) In context, Jesus merely talks about the renewal of the cosmos and not something big like the miraculous healing of our grade point average. But we need to take a breath amidst unpacking to savor the clean page a new term brings.

No roommate has sized us up as a freak of nature – yet. No professor has pegged us as an “I’m just in it for the three credits” slacker – yet. No free ride geek majoring in physics who can’t decode the instructions on a pack of Ramen noodles has left a rapidly growing blob in the washroom sink – where it will swell up, grow hair and eventually learn to sing songs by Tori Amos and Death Cab for Cutie. Not yet. For freshmen (or freshers), it’s a heady time. The excitement runs neck and neck with nerves. The concrete is wet; be careful yet bold with what we write. It will be there the rest of our lives.

For returning pros, the clean page Jesus hands us means the old freshman shakedown cruise is over – it’s time to tighten some bolts. It’s time to think and not just to study. It’s time to make wise relationship choices that stretch and feed us instead of just hanging with anybody with a pulse to keep from being alone. It’s time to have new eyes for the people who irritate, are different or plain drive us crazy. When we’re around people who simply require the power of the Holy Spirit to look at and talk to, it shows that Jesus Christ has enrolled us in His advanced seminar in loving. There are always many openings but few takers. Don’t miss your seat. It’s time to look beyond career to calling. Christ Himself wants to write something important on that blank page about the rest of our lives  Don’t fill it with random, shallow doodles that leave Him no space to work. Others with the power of the gradebook have built a stack of things for us to read. Let me throw a few on the pile like these given on the “Great Reads” page of this blog.

The second thing Jesus Christ has to say to us is, ” In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)     Contrary to what we might think or have been told, the university is not a godless place. The word has been out for a long time. At Harvard stands a building known as the Philips Brooks House. Phillips Brooks not only pastored a prominent church in the Boston area but loved students at Harvard. When he died in 1893, the Harvard student body carried his casket on their shoulders for miles from his church to the cemetery. Immediately following his death, a wave of the love, power, beauty, holiness and truth of Jesus Christ swept the campus. To the freshman class of 1883, he said:

“‘I have come to you here where men have dreaded and said that I could not come. I come to you here that you may live, that you may have life,and that you may have it more abundantly.’ So speaks Christ to the student. And with great trust and with great hope and happy soberness, giving himself into the power of …believing truth, rejoicing in duty, the student goes forward into ever-deepening life. Of such life, and of brave, earnest students entering into its fullness, may this new year of the old college be full.”  (Kelly Monroe Kullberg, Finding God at Harvard, p. 328. See “Great Reads.”)

Welcome back. Bon Appetite, gesundheit and other expressions of goodwill. If you think that this might encourage a student or someone who loves them, then share, Twitter, subscribe and all that social media stuff. If you already do subscribe, maybe Geezer 1 is for you. It’s a mix of students, student ministry leaders, professors, administrators, artists, writers, musicians, composers, pastors, booksellers, broadcasters, theologians, business people, cultural thinkers and entrepreneurs, a few campus rats and a Goth who think that Jesus Christ thinks that the university is a special place. You might make a nice addition. These guys are sharp; you will make us better. Also, I’m open to any question on the Christain faith and life as well as life on campus. I may not be the best on these subjects, but if I don’t know the answer, I will make something up! (Kidding!!! A lot of that goes on here so get used to it. If you get up in the morning and screw your pants on one leg at a time, this website is probably not for you. But you might need it more than you think.) No names required but I reserve the right to ask follow up clarifying questions to dignify your question with a good answer. If there are any dumb questions to be asked, I will be doing that. Otherwise, everything is fair game.

I hope you and I will be friends this academic year.

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