College is tough. Along with exciting new adventures and friends, Christian students can face challenges to their faith that can leave them feeling drained and alone. Remaining true to my Lutheran confession becomes even more difficult when I am frequently surrounded at school by discussions and debates with those who like to challenge my own theological foundation.
Serving as a Higher Things CCV has blessed me with a rare chance to join a Lutheran community that offers wonderful support and has provided me with some of my dearest and closest friends. Those five days in July when hundreds of Christ-confessing students gather to receive God's Sacraments and study His Word has become a refreshing oasis in the desert that many of us face at school. The nourishment that can be found in the four daily church services along with the faithfully taught plenary lectures offer abundant doses of clearly taught Law and Gospel. Even in the hour long breakaway sections, specific analysis of church practice and history provides a remarkable opportunity to explore personal inquiry and engage in discussion about a multitude of theological subjects.
Surrounded by fellow Lutheran college students and a multitude of faithful pastors, I quickly learned to take advantage of this beneficial environment. Both intense and relaxed conversations fill almost every minute of our free time and supply much needed counsel and consolation after wearying semesters as school. The support and friendship I have received during my three years as a CCV often make me wish that I could live in a place where I could be constantly immersed in this wonderful teaching, friendship, and worship.
At this year's conference, during our initial get-to-know-each other circle, we were asked what our favorite part of Higher Things is. There were a few varying answers, but as in previous years one familiar answer arose as the most popular: the worship. I thought to myself, "These people get it!" The daily services of Matins, Vespers, Evening Prayer, and Compline have become some my most treasured memories, starting with my very first Higher Things conference six years ago. It was at Higher Things that I first understood what the glorious treasure we have in our liturgy, which allows us to praise and glorify God along with those in the past, present, and future.
These times of worship have given me, through the historic liturgy, some of the greatest comfort and reassurance of God's love for us. Some say that today's youth are turned away by traditional services, but I have seen thousands of youth enthusiastically singing an ancient liturgy and reverently celebrating the Lord's Supper. What a immeasurable joy it is to unite our voices together in praise every day!
Throughout the academic year, these theology-filled and worship-packed days remain with me and have even helped me endure some hardest times at college. I find the comfort of the worship and the community of my Lutheran Higher Things family when confronted by the trials and challenges of college. When we pray evening prayer together at my college, I remember with fondness and gratitude the thousands of voices at Higher Things conferences, and joyfully anticipate the time when I will hear them again.
Magdalena Olson is a senior at Hillsdale College majoring in history and German, the vice president of Hillsdale College Students for Life, and a member at Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church in Marshall, Michigan.
Created: September 4th, 2015