Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
I have just returned from an absolutely amazing trip with our youth to the LCMS Youth Gathering in Minneapolis. Words cannot adequately express how thankful I am for the generous support of this congregation that made this trip possible. THANK YOU!
During our time at the Gathering, we dug into what it really means to have a REAL. PRESENT. GOD. The Gathering officially started with a “Mass Event” on Thursday evening. We first came together with all 28,000 youth, adults, planners, and volunteers we looked at our theme as a whole.
On Friday, we dug into how our God is REAL. We are real people with real problems. It’s easy to try to edit and add the right filters to every part of our lives, but real life is broken and messy. Because Jesus is real, we can be real, too! We can come to God real, broken, and unedited. He loves us as His children made perfect by the blood of Christ, and that is how we can face the world!
On Saturday, we looked at what it really means to be PRESENT. We are so easily distracted in this life. Between phones, busy schedules, Netflix binging, and so many other things, being present with the people around us is becoming a lost art, let along being truly present with God! We were reminded of the blessing of presence, and the promise that we have of God’s constant presence in our lives! Our God is not only all-powerful, but He cares about the minutia of our lives and is always drawing us closer. God is present in His Word (through Christ Himself, Scripture, the Sacraments, and His Word proclaimed). God is also present through His people – those He’s placed in our lives to encourage us in our faith. God’s presence is our refuge and strength, no matter what!
On Sunday, we were collectively in awe of the power and magnitude of our God! This God who created the universe and all of its beautiful and intricate details has also created each and every one of us. (If you’d like to connect to the kids that attended on this topic, check out this video and then ask them about Carl!) We are His individual children and we are all an amazing part of this amazing creation. Our God is all-powerful; our God is all-personal, and this God is for us in Jesus!
Some of you were able to tune in and view portions of these mass events (and if you didn’t, I’m telling you now, you missed out!), but that was only one aspect of the gathering. Through your generosity, these kids (and adults) were also able to spend time together in Scripture and attend seminars on a variety of topics. We heard the Biblical perspective on topics including but not limited to bullying, dating and sex, witnessing to peers, understanding scripture, dealing with drama, leadership, transgenderism, and so much more! It was an incredible blessing to see these kids’ faces light up at being able to speak frankly about these issues, and actually hear some helpful answers.
This experience and spiritual growth would not have been possible without your prayers and financial support. I have been incredibly grateful and encouraged to see your investment in members if our congregation. I’ve got another request, though: Please continue to support and encourage the youth that are choosing to be part of our congregational life. Please thank them for the many ways that they are currently serving in worship. Please ask them about their experience, and if they were not one of the 10 that traveled to Minnesota, ask them about their summer, their sport or job, or their plans for the fall. It takes more than parents and a couple church staff when it comes to building up these believers, and I am confident that each and every one of us could learn a couple of things from these amazing kids!
Your Sister in Christ,
Tara Barrett, DCE