Members of Concordia's Campus Ministry Leadership Team chose Isaiah 64:8 as the theme verse for the 2021-22 academic year. The theme phrase, "Shaped with Purpose," calls to mind the image of an artist who creates something out of nothingness, reminding Christians of our creator and His Will for our lives.

Campus Pastor Steve Smith offers the following insights on this year’s theme:

I would not, by any means, call myself artistic. Especially when it comes to having an inner vision or creating something new and beautiful, I resign myself to hopefully blending into the middle of the pack. Crafting words is a bit more comfortable for me, but I wouldn’t claim to have a truly creative spirit.

But from the very beginning God had a vision for a world so complex and brilliant that we simply look in awe at His creation. He’s created us with eyes that can see and appreciate color and beauty and ears that can hear sounds and music so beautiful they can move us to tears. He’s given us the ability to create beautiful things as they reflect His creation.

All from a lump of clay. All from His hand forming Adam from dirt. The complexity of our bodies and the beauty of life have all come from the miracle of God’s hand touching His creation to bring life. When God breathed life into Adam, God’s purpose for human life took shape.

Now there are billions of people who are alive, combined with all who have lived from Adam’s first breath until now. Every one is different. The more scientists discover, the more complex our bodies and our world seem to be. So the physical variety of us all—with beautiful shades of skin color and height and shape and eye color and hair (or lack of it!)—just hints at the infinite possibilities of what life can look like physically.

But when it comes to what our lives look like beyond that, that’s where God’s purpose in creation is seen best. Our abilities and interests and quirks and personalities show in our variety of vocations—in family relationships, as workers, and most of all as God’s people. We are shaped by God and created with purpose. The skill of the Potter to make everything He creates unique is the miracle of His care and relationship with every part of His creation. A skilled potter can make things that are both useful and beautiful. Even pots (people) that are tainted with sin and are misshapen or “deformed” can be reformed and transformed into a shape to serve God’s purposes.

We sometimes dismiss as cliché that everything God has made is beautiful—God doesn’t make junk. But maybe part of the purpose God puts into each of us is to better see that as truth and to see the value in all life. Not just in being pro-life, as we unashamedly are, but in encouraging and supporting the differences we have as they are lived out by each of us fascinating and unique children of God.

Isaiah 64:8: “But now, O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.”

The purpose God has for each of us is the one that we are called to see also: God “desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4).  Our purpose is that we be caught up in God’s desire—that we and all we know can enjoy the life God has given unto eternal life. Wow. There are as many creative ways to do that as there are people.

So as our theme verse leads us, we’ll spend a year living out how God’s hand has shaped us individually and collectively—molded into a community in Christ’s love.

If this story has inspired you, why not explore how you can help further Concordia's mission through giving.