It’s the end of the summer. People are finishing up their vacations and slowly returning to their regular schedules. Many of us are preparing for the new school year. For us Orthodox Christians, we are looking forward to the new liturgical year (September 1) and to the upcoming September feast days. Summer is slow-paced, relaxed, and in many ways self-focused (I deserve this time to drink on the beach!). Now, it’s time to reengage with “normal” life, and to rededicate ourselves to our mission.
What is our mission as young adults in the Church? If you google that phrase (I just did) you’ll come up with all sorts of odd and wordy answers, including one website dedicated to Messianic Islam. I would submit that our mission is nothing special, nothing unique,just to witness to our faith by simply being honest and doing what we are supposed to do as Christians. What does that look like though, especially in a campus setting? What it looked like for me was an example set for me by another Christian on my floor, we will call him “Steve”. Steve went to Church often, though he didn’t often talk about it. He was comfortable being “just one of the guys” while also obviously markedly different than those around him. What impressed me so much about him was his care for people who were drinking. Instead of lecturing his floormates when they made objectively bad choices, he was always the first person there to take care of them, making sure they didn’t choke on the their own vomit and on at least one occasion, calling an ambulance for someone who was dangerously close to alcohol poisoning. I also recall his attention paid to inebriated women. While most of the men on campus would probably be trying to take advantage these women, Steve would make sure they got back to their respective rooms safely (especially after several instances of sexual assault on campus). When they were sober, Steve was more interested in getting to know them as human beings, instead of using them for his own sexual gratification and ego-centric needs.
I learned a great deal in my first year, and in my humility (or more often my humiliation) eventually learned that my mission as a Christian on campus was simply just to be a Christian, be a force of kindness, love, and care in whatever community God dropped me in that particular year. Steve taught me a lesson that hundreds of years of our tradition witness to, that any small act of love can affect not only our own salvation, but the salvation of everyone around us. Our mission is to work God’s love in our community, while at the same time holding ourselves to that standard of purity, honesty, and wholeness of life that our relationship with Jesus Christ demands. When all else fails, we are called to be God’s rational flock, and the only real rational act is love.
In this spirit we offer three articles this month previously published in Concern. Concern was a journal published in the 1960’s and ’70’s by the SCOBA Campus Commission, the precursor to today’s Orthodox Christian Fellowship (Whom we thank for giving us permission to republish) . These articles were written quite along time ago, but reflect the desire of Church leaders to offer words of encouragement to a younger and often chaotic and confused generation. We offer these articles as encouragement for your coming year.