Living the Liturgical and Academic Year

9 Mar

Even though I am not far removed from my own college experience, I am convinced that I will forever structure my life based on the academic calendar. I remember the rhythms of the year: the joyful beginnings, the mid-semester slumps, the anxiety-inducing exam periods, and the refreshing yet swift-ending breaks.

Aware that this is quite the generalization, the college experience has a pattern of its own too: the harrowing transition of freshman year, the sophomoric triumph, the growing pains of junior year and the sudden onset of “senioritis.” I know and identify with the many emotions my current students have experienced and will soon encounter. It is important to mark these, and we do through rituals like freshman orientation, convocation, mid-terms and finals, annual student events, and graduation, just to name a few.

But what about the Christian liturgical year?

What might the most faithful engagement of our campus and church calendars look like?

We usually begin traditional fall and spring semesters in Ordinary Time. Attempting to point to the hope of Advent in the midst of final exams, we never having the joy of celebrating the twelve days of Christmas together as students go home for break. Lent typically arrives during mid-semester despair, when students keenly identify with the wilderness places and are desperate for Easter hope. Students embark on study abroad experiences, mission trips, jobs and other coursework in the middle of the fifty days of Easter, never permitting what I believe would be one revelrous Pentecost party.

I admit, as a student, I did not fully engage the liturgical year. For example, several late nights in the library would pass, and Christmas would be upon me, having completely missed the season (and essence) of Advent.

As campus ministers and chaplains, how do we integrate the rhythms of the academic calendar with the seasons of the church? There are times we might we propose counter postures. There are times when we might submit to the incongruous realities.

How are you and your ministries living out the liturgical and academic years?

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Meghan Roth is the campus coordinator for the Wesley Fellowship at Armstrong Atlantic State University in Savannah, GA. A recent graduate from Wesley Theological Seminary, she also has served as an intern with the campus ministries at Shenandoah University (Winchester, VA) and The American University (Washington, DC). She is a certified candidate for ordained ministry as an elder in the United Methodist Church.

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