It is all about Jesus! It is all about HIM! Amen! Yes, we know that. This is what we think and believe! But just thinking and saying that we are Christ-centered does not mean that we are. Augustine had this basic insight long ago that we are what we love and what we think we love may not be actually what we love. The theologian James K.A. Smith has recently summarized St. Augustine’s insights in his book, “You are what you Love.” Think of this statement along the same lines of, “You are what you eat.” What we do, our rhythms, our habits, and our experiences mold us into who we are. There is no thinking our way out of or into who we are.
This truth highlights the great importance of the weekly worship service. The truth is that the Word and the Sacraments sculpt our hearts that we may continuously grow in love for God and neighbor. God’s Word and the Sacraments given to us in the weekly worship service are the center of Christian growth. It is God’s clear and gracious proclamation of who we are! This Divine service is not an act of intellectual assent but an often unconscious reclamation of the sinner by the Grace of God in action.
Then why youth gatherings? What is the point? This is a good question.
John Charles Ryle, the 19th century Anglican bishop, wrote, “The same fire which melts the wax hardens the clay; the same sun which makes the living tree grow, dries up the dead tree, and prepares it for burning. Nothing so hardens the heart of man as a barren familiarity with sacred things” (Consider Your Ways, 1849).
We can, because we are indeed sinful, close our ears as well as our hearts to the good news that is proclaimed in our church. There is no such thing as irresistible grace. God is not in the business of coercion. One of the major goals of a youth gathering (along with any spiritual retreat) is to remove the scales from our eyes and ears. Through these events, outside of our normal routines, Jesus would give us ears to hear! We see HIM and we hear HIM that we might continue to see and hear HIM anew during each real encounter we have with him every Sunday.
June 1–3, 2018, Junior High students from Michigan will spend a weekend surrounded by HIM. The theme verse for the weekend is from Romans 11:36:
“For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen”
This gathering will dive into three aspects of one’s life in Christ: From HIM, Through HIM and To HIM. All good in life, our faith, our reason, and our gifts are From HIM. We are people of hope, people that live in grace! We live and act Through HIM as His Word guides and strengthens. We live in praise To HIM, overflowing in joy because of His goodness!
Gathering speakers include Rev. Bill Yonker, Rev. Gabe Kasper, and Nathanael Meckes. Musical guests are Swen & Dean and Impact. Pre-registration is now open.