Finishing up his recollections of the New Student Orientations, our fictional friend Benny fills us in on the final days of New Student Orientation at our fictional college, Explor University. I think you’ll find Benny’s freshman-ish thoughts on communion interesting, in particular.
To follow up, next week I’ll offer my own thoughts on the Orientations at the various schools and why such things matter to a college minister.
But for now, here’s Benny:
If you remember last time I wrote, it was Sunday night and I got to go to “Vespers,” and I still don’t know what that means. But after that , Explor University had another worship service inside the chapel called collegelife, and this is something they do every Sunday.
The band was AWESOME! They were rocking out, even on old songs by a guy named Rich Mullins. And lots of new stuff, too. They had a saxophone in the band! That night, the head of the University Ministries gave the message, and he said it was introduction to the rest of the semester at collegelife. He also had us talk to people next to us (awkward!) but it was cool ’cause it tied into the message eventually.
At the end, we took communion together, which I think was okay even if it wasn’t in church ’cause I’ve done it at camp before. Only it was different communion, because they do something called “Intinction,” where you dip the bread you get IN THE DRINK. Maybe it’s just ’cause they didn’t get enough cups? I don’t know. I thought she said “Intention” but found out later what the real word is. So I guess in college you get to learn stuff like that.
It was funny, though, and it made me feel a little less worried, when the lady helping us take communion told us that if we tear off too big a piece of bread (yeah, we tore off our own!), it was okay to get more instead of just pretending to dip non-bread in the cup. And, she said, if the body (the bread) happens to float away when we’re dipping it, it was okay to get more. (Because I just KNOW that will probably happen to me sometime.) She said the God of Leftovers wouldn’t want us not to get to take communion.
At the end of the whole service (after the band played again), we were s’posed to say the benediction to each other, because they said the early church used to do it that way. Only nobody really did. I guess ’cause we’re all new. But we did hold hands!
The next night , we had “New Student Worship” in a different chapel. Only I couldn’t find it at first, but luckily everybody was talking before it started so I could hear where it was.
When I walked in, most people were already in there. And I saw some girls stretching on the floor in the back – I didn’t know WHAT was going on!!! So I sat down quick.
It ended up that they wanted to give us a “diversity of worship styles” they said. So we started with a gospel choir (which was cool, ’cause I think some older friends of mine were in this choir at Explor a long time ago), and then we had a normal worship band, but also there was some dancing in there -“interpretive dance.” (That’s why the girls were stretching.) And the gospel choir came back later.
There was a student who talked (he was serious) and then a professor, who a lot of people seemed excited about, but I guess those were the Orientation leaders. He talked about the Love of God, and it was really good, and he also made it clear he understood where we were coming from as new students, even though he’s an adult.
After that, the Orientation leaders washed everybody’s feet, which is pretty cool and kind of new to me. Just one foot per person, if I’m remembering right.
That night, I heard that another school close to here was changing its name from “College” to “University.” That’s pretty cool. I wonder how it works with different colleges here, like if we’re friends with them and ever go hang out or something sometime. Maybe at Halloween. Or dances.
The next day , they had what’s called an “Opportunity Fair.” (I think this is the day when a lot of the not-new students were coming back to school, and some of them were at the booths.) The opportunity fair is a chance to find out about opportunities. Like, stuff to do at school in clubs and things. I wish we’d had one of these at my high school at the first of the year.
The problem is, there is SO MUCH I want to do! I saw Christian groups and the newspaper and the yearbook (I did that in high school) and something called College Union and another newspaper (this one was funny) and people in pajamas and even a girl with dyed-red hair (but she was in the Improv club, so that made sense), and a rowing team carrying around humongous oars and a Tae Kwon Do club where a lot of the boys were interested because of the twin girls in karate costumes.
They fed us candy, and it seemed like lots of tables had Oreos, too, which kinda confused me. (Later that night, I saw a sign called “Opportunities and Oreos,” so then it confused me less.)
So much to think about. My college minister one time told me to “guard my signature,” which he said means be very careful what I sign up for in college. Fortunately, most groups just wanted my information so they could send me info on email. So I gave that. How am I supposed to decide, though???
That night, we had our last Orientation activity at Explor U., another worship service. But this one is called “All School,” and they said it’s something they do a lot – maybe every month. And since all the older kids had come back to school, they were with us all in the big chapel. They seem really excited about us being here, which makes you feel good.
That service had more student speakers (I think three, at different times). But one really cool thing is that someone wrote a “class song” for our freshman class (I think they do this every year), and we got to turn around and sing it TO the older students. Our song is called “With One Voice,” I think, and they gave us a CD of it. Sweet!
The president also prepared us to take communion again, and this is where I learned the word “Intinction” for real. This time, instead of going to get our own, they passed us bread-loaves (so we tore off a piece), then they passed the cup. Oh! I forgot to say before! It was still grape juice, and so was the one a couple of nights before. Since they were doing communion with one cup instead of plastic cups, I wasn’t sure what it would be at first, since I’ve heard that some people do communion with real alcohol.
After communion, I got some blue ice cream in the student center.
And that was New Student Orientation!
 collegelife took place at North Park University
 “New Student Worship” was held at Wheaton College
 This whole day was still at Wheaton, as they were the last of the five schools to finish their Orientation activities