By Danielle Whitaker
The holidays are upon us once again. The older I get, the quicker they seem to come! And with them come all the traditions we look forward to. Sometimes the word tradition seems like an unspiritual word to talk about. Especially if you just read Mark 7 for your Quiet time this morning which warns us about “setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions.” That is why in the campus ministry we make sure our campus traditions put into practice the word of God instead of setting it aside! For example:
Holiday Tradition #1 “Campus Thanksgiving”
In this tradition we put into practice such scriptures as Acts2:46 “They broke bread together and ate with glad and sincere hearts…”, and 2 Thessalonians 3:10 “If a man will not work, he shall not eat.” (Ha ha!) Each Campus student, male and female, brings part of an early Thanksgiving feast to our house (we used to do it on Campus….but having an oven makes the meal so much warmer and more enjoyable!) We place it on the table and pray and start eating….it is amazing how quickly 3 turkeys are eaten along with everything else. The students amaze me. We usually always have some sort of cooking story to laugh about….like when Grant Moen made a pumpkin pie and baked it for 5 hours because it still looked runny…..it still got eaten! Or when Dave White cooked a 20+ lb.turkey on 500 degrees for 2 hours…..it still got eaten! Or this year when Darius and Tim were supposed to bring a ham to the gathering, yet after 30-40 minutes in the oven, they smelled a very bad smell and found a very burnt ham on the outside that was still uncooked on the inside….I still do not understand how that happened….it did not get eaten or even brought over to stare at, but we had mercy and let them eat anyways! It was so much fun to see everyone and their friends. It was a packed house and we will continue to enjoy this campus tradition for years to come!
Holiday Tradition #2 Brother’s Encouragement Night (BEN)
I wouldn’t call this a tradition yet….but after seeing the effects I think it should be. It was sandwiched between the Thanksgiving and Christmas parties and I thought it was so amazing that it deserved some attention. At this event, the campus sisters put into practice Hebrews 3 :12-13, “encourage one another daily…”. They surprised the campus brothers by throwing them a party. At his party, they had candles lit, lights turned low, and a carpet rolled out as the men entered the fellowship hall on December 4th. They had baked goodies and drinks. They had armor for them to put on and take pictures with distinguishing them as the warriors of God they are. They were treated to a slideshow and were serenaded by a small band…singer, guitarist, pianist and even Adrienne Kishimoto on the harmonica…singing Stand by Me! And that is not all! Each sister had a gift for each brother and shared about them in front of the group. I think this tradition is very repeatable based on the looks on our amazing brother’s faces!
Holiday Tradition #3 The Campus Christmas Party
The next day, December 5th, was our annual Christmas Party. At this event we put into practice such scriptures as Psalm 126 “Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy.” We believe in having a lot of fun. Our amazing hostesses such as Megan Caraway, party planner extraordinaire, had candy, candy corn, candy canes, and syrup at our snack table….I was wondering what the syrup went on when told that Will Ferrell on the movie Elf considered these the 4 essential food groups. We have many comedians in our group. Darius is the one who spearheads the “most obnoxious Christmas sweater you can find and wear” contest. He always wins….as you can tell by the photo. We have a white elephant every year….even though the limit is $10….they usually cost much less than that and are always very unique…..new shoes that didn’t fit one of the guys, little stuffed animals, a ‘Pretty, Pretty Princess’ game I stole for my 3 year old daughter! (she wants to play it everyday, so it is getting used). A trick pen that made one sister scream and my husband a little upset till they saw the ink disappear off their shirts. The laughter, and memories go on…..40 people musical chairs (Adrienne won that challenge for the second year in a row!), group building of gingerbread houses in less than 5 minutes….The nativity house won. (My group’s looked like Hurricane Mike had just blown through.) And my favorite tradition of all…..group singing and acting out of the 12 days of Christmas! I wish we could have got that one on tape.
I feel so privileged to be a part of the campus ministry here in Seattle. These students inspire me every day by their love, their laughter, and their lives. In Mark 10:30, Jesus promises us a home away from home….”a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and fields—and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life” when we put him first. I am so happy to be able to use our home and our new church home for our campus traditions. I am so happy to have a larger family than I ever dreamed possible to spend this life with on earth and someday our home away from home in heaven.