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  • Writer's picturePeter Nittler

Senior Sunday

FBC is not a liturgical church in the obvious sense.  We choose our preaching topics, we don’t do much kneeling, and only “repeat-after-me” when we get the urge.  


But that doesn’t mean we don’t have liturgies. We, like everyone, have patterns and habits to our lives of worship that shape us, form us, and make us into the kinds of worshippers we are. We stand when we sing, we hear the Word preached every week, we receive a benediction, we eat the communion meal once a month, we mark every year with an Advent Series, and kick off the Fall with a Focus, etc. 


One of my favorite parts of our liturgical practices together – particularly our liturgical calendar – is that we set aside the first Sunday in June to celebrate.  We give full-throated energy toward cheering for graduating students in Lighthouse, College Life (and some stellar grad students).


It is easy to see how Senior Sunday is for the students – they’re putting on the service, they’re being celebrated, the messaging is transposed in their key.  But if it was only for them, we’d be doing it over a BBQ on Sunday afternoon. But the fact that we do Senior Sunday on Sunday morning for the whole church to join, means it is for the church, too.


Just like all liturgies – Senior Sunday isn’t just something we do – Senior Sunday does something to us.   It makes us into a kind of church willing to make this crazy investment. We are a church who does the hard work of investing in students not just so they are a blessing here, but for them to go be a blessing somewhere else. I know from a decade of experience; this investment has a unique mix of joy and pain. It’s not cutting-edge marketplace-efficiency that motivates this investment: It doesn’t help our bottom-line, there’s not an obvious ROI. You only do this kind of work if you think it matters. 


Of course, the investment is done throughout the year and across years, but one Sunday every year, we stop and tell ourselves these stories again.  We are reminded of who we are.  We celebrate the students who we’ve hoped to form and disciple. We cheer them on (maybe with a tear or two) as they take our investment and leave us for what’s next.  We become acutely aware that this matters


It’s a glorious Sunday. And it’s this Sunday. I hope to see you there.  


Peter Nittler

College Pastor

P.S. While all transitioning students deserve this church-backed support, I’d be remiss if I didn’t expand our collective empathy for this year’s college-graduate class. This is the group of students who had their high school graduation Covided away – and these are also the students who were the hidden casualties of last summer’s discernment process. While the church discerned about staffing and resources, many of these students were forced to ask existential questions about their place here.  Ultimately, that discernment led many to boldly declare that FBC has always been, and ought to continue to be, a church with a radical commitment to college students. May the students feel that clarity and compassion as we celebrate them this weekend! 

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