The new school year at Kent State University has started. And indeed: everything feels new. Both for better and for worse. Mostly, though, I just have to say that it’s good to be back. Even with the general sense of newness, as students are walking around for their first full week of classes, I feel like yelling Kent State’s trade-marked promotional slogan: “You Belong Here!”

Our church has really appreciated the opportunity to make new connections with new students. We’ve done surveys…

We’ve handed out promotional materials…

We’ve organized sports activities, social events, and a scavenger hunt (like we’ve done in other, pre-pandemic, years)…

And of course, we’ve started worshipping on campus again.

When we pulled out all the stuff we use to pull together a weekly worship gathering on campus, we found an old chalkboard that we typically set up next to the coffee and tea we provide for guests. And it still listed the date of our last full-church worship gathering on campus, in Bowman 133: March 8, 2020. That’s 533 days since we were last together in our normal meeting space!

I actually kind of hope that the sense of newness will wear off sooner rather than later. Exhilaration and exhaustion always seem to go together at this time of the year. But I feel especially “out of shape,” socially, emotionally, and spiritually. I get more easily overwhelmed by all the new / old campus dynamics. And it seems that I’m observing this in other students, as well. It makes sense, with a 533-day period of atrophy. Still, we have lots of reason for new hope.

Please pray with me for God’s strength and glory, during this strategic stretch of the new school year.

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