I can’t begin to tell you how proud I am. Yes, I know, we’re not supposed to show pride, but I think that’s talking about pride within oneself.
Pride of others? I think that’s probably ok.
I am so proud of Trinity’s young people. What a fantastic group we have. The whole week that we were at the ELCA Youth Gathering, they had great attitudes, were fun to be around, did what we needed them to do and didn’t complain. They survived two cross-country bus rides, and they were the “house” band that led worship with our synod day…totaling almost 1,000 people! I love this group. They all connected and built great relationships with each other. They are fantastic. As a congregation, we can be so proud of them!
I am so proud of Trinity’s adult leaders. We have some of the greatest adult leaders on the planet. They were fully “in” on the trip, and their goal was to make sure that our young people were safe, and had the very best possible experience in terms of the event, and even more importantly, in terms of their faith. They slept overnight on a bus (twice), they led small groups, they participated, they led by example, they shared their own faith and they were fun to be around. Words can never express my gratitude. I thank God for every single one of them. A special shout-out to Kate Verlautz, our senior high youth minister, who did an amazing job leading the whole group, from the time it formed a year ago through getting everybody home safely.
I am so proud of our church. To do an event like this is an ambitious undertaking. We rent stadiums…and entire convention centers…and arenas. We book 45 hotels. We bring in speakers and musicians from all over the world. And we recruit, train and utilize literally thousands of volunteers. Why?
- Because we believe that the faith of our young people is important, and we believe that our young people are forming their faith, and events like these can be milestones and catalysts to greater faith in Jesus Christ.
- Because we believe that when we gather, we can be a witness to God’s mission in the world.
- Because we believe that we have things we can learn from people and places different than our own. Houston taught us a lot.
And I am thankful to God. The Holy Spirit showed up this week, in a big way. It was amazing. Every night, tears were shed as we heard stories of how God was at work. Every day we learned something about the radically welcoming and inclusive grace and love of God who seeks us out through Jesus and draws alongside.
The theme of this year’s gathering was “This Changes Everything.” We were reminded this week that the love and grace of God are not passive. They are active. God is at work, and continues to create, redeem and sustain us by the power of the Spirit. The world is changed and our lives are changed. We are made new that we can serve and share.
This week reminded our young people, our leaders, the whole of the church (and me!) that Jesus changes everything!
Thanks be to God!