It’s time to do the small things well. It’s time to turn off the noise and pick up our Bible. It’s time to run back to our first love.”– Jennie Allen IF Gathering 2017
Sometimes all you need is one weekend. Sometimes all you need is to turn off all the noise of this loud world. Sometimes all you need is a place, looking over a sight of picturesque greenery to remind you how great is our God. CORE, Christians on the Road to Emmaus, provides that and more. In three days, surrounded by beautiful nature and the body of Christ, you get what most college students lack – time. Time to realign yourself, time to remind yourself of who you are and who God is, time to breathe and soak in the radiant love from our Father.
But as simple the goals may seem for this retreat, none of it would be possible without the steadfast preparation done by CORE leaders. These leaders, who have gotten to experience the other side of being first-time heirs, dedicate their time to make the retreat special. Preparations begin the academic year before, and by the first week of school, leaders are confirmed and the behind the scenes planning and delegation begins. This year, I got the privilege to serve for the first time as a leader. Every moment is thought out, planned, and most importantly prayed over.
The retreat is entirely a surprise to first-timers. From the location, to the schedule, to even the time of each day, this allows the heirs to simply come. Come and be present, and see what the Lord has in store. It was a beautiful experience to be able to witness heirs unravel the secrets and mysteries kept from them until the retreat. Through listening and sharing, spending time alone with the Lord, and spending time in communal prayer, the overall ambiance was that of community. Each CORE retreat ends by officially welcoming its newcomers into the CORE family. Every year, the participants of that retreat stamp their attendance in a unique way. What I find most moving, is being able to see names from CORE I, all the way up to CORE XII. There is something powerful in seeing the CORE family grow, seeing names you may not recognize, or names that you do. What a joyful thing to physically see the body of Christ growing at Ithaca College.
The new student participants were called heirs this year in correlation to the chosen theme verse (see below). The weekend activities all returned to the truth that we are no longer slaves, but through Jesus Christ, have been made heirs to the throne. Coming together in the freedom of getting away, to singing over the freedom we have in Christ, you could feel the chains being broken.—Vanessa Zimmerman
But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children. And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.” Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir.