Eight youth and two adults from Resurrection Lutheran Church are on their way to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) National Youth Gathering in New Orleans. They will join more than 36,000 participants from across the country for five days of service, study, and worship. They will gather under the theme of Citizens with the Saints, based on Ephesians 2:14-20:
Jesus is our peace. In his life and death on the cross, Jesus broke down the dividing walls so that we are no longer strangers and outsiders, but we are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God. The foundation of God’s house was built of apostles and prophets, and Jesus, the cornerstone, holds it all together.
Like many of the participants, this will be a mile-stone for our youth. Growing up in a congregation like Resurrection, where their confirmation class is from 15-20 classmates, our youth often perceive the church as a small intimate group. Gathering with several thousand other youth will expand their vision of what the church is and can become. The Holy Spirit power of 36,000 youth singing and rocking the Superdome will energize and renew the faith of many who attend.
A couple of years ago, I attended a similar Christian gathering called Catalyst. About 10,000 young adults gathered from across the nation in a small arena in suburban Atlanta. The packed arena of singing, cheering, stomping, passionate followers of Jesus Christ made my heart sing.
I am so proud of how Hannah Koehler, our first-year youth director, has worked to make this mission trip become reality for our youth. She attended a National Youth Gathering several years ago and the experience transformed her life. She and others on the trip are writing their own blog to keep our congregation informed.
I invited you to join me in praying for all the youth in New Orleans this week as they discover their place as Citizens with the Saints.
Lord Jesus, bless, encourage and nurture all the youth who have gathered in New Orleans this week.