The Jubilee Conference Transforms Everything
The annual Jubilee Conference was held this past weekend in Pittsburgh, PA. The conference brings together college students (2,000+) to explore the implications of the Gospel for all of life. And by all of life, I mean, well, all of life. There were breakout sessions on just about everything: education, business, history, art, dance, social sciences, athletics, weather forecasting… And that’s just looking at one page of the program (p. 25)! But that’s not all. The main sessions of the conference challenged students to consider the biblical story as the True story of the world. Each gathering took a closer look at the key chapters of the Story (Creation, Fall, Redemption, Restoration) and then invited students to find their place in the biblical story. “Inviting students to find their place in the biblical story” is currently in vogue, but the Jubilee Conference and the college ministry (CCO) that sponsors the event has been doing it for many years. This was my 12th Jubilee overall, and for the second straight year, I had privilege of being co-emcee with my good friend Dave Bindewald.
The conference never ceases to amaze me. Words can’t express how much of an honor it is to be a part of it. The students are always eager to learn and energized to serve. The speakers are remarkably gifted at taking complicated concepts and making them accessible to young adults. Stories of redemption are told that encourages and equips students to want to make a difference in the world, but not without first talking honestly and openly about the reality of sin. In fact, an entire main session is devoted to discussing the Fall. The worship music is as good as I’ve ever heard. Not only is the quality excellent but the depth and diversity is profound. And, of course, Byron and Beth Borger of Hearts & Minds provide the biggest and best bookstore I have ever seen, reminding students that the “Jubilee vision” is not just a weekend experience.
Every year, amidst the splendid chaos of it all, I find a few minutes to reflect. This year my reflections took me to my work directing the College Transition Initiative, particularly to the students (and parents) I meet right before they head off to college. During the closing worship of the Saturday evening session, I was praying for high school seniors heading to college this fall. My prayer is that they catch a vision like the one provided by Jubilee early on in their college experience; that they know that it is possible to live-out their Christian faith on campus; and that they find a community of friends and mentors that will bring them along in the faith. I found myself, once again, reciting one of my favorite prayers from the Book of Common Prayer (For Young Persons):
God our Father, you see your children growing up in an unsteady and confusing world: Show them that your ways give more life than the ways of the world, and that following you is better than chasing after selfish goals. Help them to take failure, not as a measure of their worth, but as a chance for a new start. Give them strength to hold their faith in you, and to keep alive their joy in your creation; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen. And, Amen!
*Photos courtesy of Andrew Rush.