I'm in Chicago with 16 Lutheran college students from Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa, gathering for the Lutheran Student Movement Central Midwest Retreat. Let me say, just one more time for those of you who haven't been paying attention: I LOVE MY JOB.
Yesterday we drove to the Windy City, parked our van behind University Lutheran Church (pictured left) at Northwestern University, and sat down for a delicious chili supper prepared by members of a local church. We met with a local homeless advocate from Connections for the Homeless, met in small groups to discuss how that conversation changed our understanding of homelessness, especially in a massive urban area like Chicago. This morning, we split into two groups. One group went to the Greater Chicago Food Depository, one of the largest food banks in the world, to pack over 1,300 emergency food boxes. The second group, whom I joined, went to Good News Partners and spent the morning sanding bannisters in a building being renovated for low-income housing. This afternoon we heard from the Night Ministry, another homeless advocacy and partnership organization. Quite the whirlwind for this twenty-four hours.
I'm amazed all over again at these college students. Anyone who says young people don't care about the church needs to come join us at one of these retreats. More than that, we need to LISTEN to these young leaders of the church. There is a passion for service, for leadership, for partnership in these folks. Watching events like this take place is what keeps me going as a campus pastor. These students are passionate about ministry and shaping the future of our church, to the point that, as I'm typing, they're arguing about the reshaping of our national group and the necessity of plenary sessions for governance and advocacy. That's right, folks: college students want to meet in assembly, as boring and frustrating as it can be.
That's the good news from Chicago tonight - I'm soon to leave for home and my girls, whom I miss terribly. But I wanted to add a happy post since I've been on such a downer lately. No bad dreams, no sympathetic cons - just good ministry today. Thanks be to God.