Believe it or not, we are down to 3 or 4 weeks until students begin returning. And I want to take this opportunity to encourage you to be praying and thinking about this. It really is a unique blessing to live in a college town. This includes the quieter downtown during the summer, but it also includes the life and energy and opportunities that students bring with them. In many ways, a college town is a unique mission field because the mission is constantly coming to us. You don’t have to go across the world; the world is coming to you. You don’t have to look for young people trying to figure out the meaning of life; they are right ahead of you in line at Winco and in the coffee shop and at the gas station. Many of these students are at a supremely formative moment in their lives, making decisions about what they believe and who they will be. Remember that some of these students come from very broken and hurting backgrounds. Many students are very lost, very lonely, very confused, and there are thousands preparing right now to come here in a few weeks.
In the gospel, a multitude came out into the desert to hear Jesus, and when the day was coming to an end, the disciples suggested sending them away to find food. But the text says that Jesus had compassion on the crowds as sheep without a shepherd and then he told the disciples, “You give them something to eat.” Of course the disciples didn’t think they had enough, but Jesus takes what they have and multiplies it far beyond what they actually need.
This is the Table of the Lord, and here the Lord has compassion on you. Here, He fills the hungry with good things. Here, the Lord shows you hospitality and welcomes you and feeds you. At this table, there are no strangers. There is only family in Jesus. And so because you have this table, I want to encourage you to be praying for the students who are coming, and in particular I want to encourage you to be praying about how the Lord would have you welcome them. Will you be looking for them as they arrive? Will you greet them, meet them, and invite them into your home? Have compassion on them. Look for the bread that God has given you and trust that it will be enough, and then you give them something to eat.
So come and welcome to Jesus Christ.