It’s hard to believe that the Fall semester is over and we’re only 6 days away from Christmas! My name is Erik Slingerland, and I’m in my second year serving as the intern at Merge. This semester seemed to fly by for all of us on staff, so we thought it would be a good time to reflect on what happened this semester.
We kicked off the semester with our annual cook-out, where over 200 students ate food and played yard games. Throughout the semester, we came together for our weekly worship services, reflected on our faith in small groups, and enjoyed many meals provided by volunteers from local churches. Our worship services featured a variety of topics, from Biblical leadership, to the importance of having a faith community, to “The Gospel According to Queer Eye.” However, the biggest service of the semester was our Jam Sessions service, held on November 14th. This service featured music chosen by the students and testimonies from those students explaining why the song was meaningful to their faith journey. All of our students did a fantastic job sharing their stories, the band was phenomenal, and we had an incredible number of people at this service – 90 in total!
The first week of November featured our 22nd week of 24/7 prayer. This semester, our prayer room team designed the room around the theme “Praying Outside the Box.” The prayer room allowed students and staff to pray through music, writing, drawing, and painting as we do every semester, but also offered some unique ways to pray. The altar featured some smooth rocks, chalk, and a bowl of water – here, we were able to write things that were weighing us down on the rocks and drop them into water to wash away those weights. This semester’s prayer room also included a “Prayer Pail” – a place for people to write their prayers on popsicle sticks and place them in the pail for others to read and pray over. As always, prayer week was a calming, centering experience for everyone involved, and I know some are already looking forward to the Spring prayer room, which is scheduled for the week of April 10th-17th!
The semester ended with our “Eve Before You Leave” service on December 12th, which was our take on Christmas Eve. As we heard the telling of the Christmas story through scripture readings, we enjoyed a variety of Christmas music performed by students. We remembered that with Christ’s birth came hope, joy, love, and peace, and that we are called to spread these values beyond the walls of our building.
It was a busy semester and a great one. Before long, staff and students will be back to planning worship for the spring semester, engaging in theological discussions, and enjoying our time together as a Christ-centered community. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from all of us at Merge!
Erik Slingerland, Intern for Merge at ISU Wesley