Guest Blogger Pastor Dan: Live Love[d]
Today’s guest blog is hot off the press from Pastor Dan about his recent experience speaking at the National Youth Gathering! Sounds and looks like a blast! Check out photos from the event here and read more here:
A little over two years ago I received a phone call about the possibility of working with the 2013 National Youth Gathering. I had a nice conference call with a team working on the Mass Events (the 90 minute gatherings the cap off each day at the NYG). I was sincere and direct. And after we hung up, I told Charlotte, “I don’t think I’m the guy. But if they ask me to do it, I will.” They did. And I did.
This last week has been one of the most humbling, emotional, exciting, exhausting, and absolutely thrilling moments of my life. (And I didn’t just toss out a bunch of superlative adjectives there. I’ve thought long and hard about each of those words.) I was blessed with the opportunity to lead daily Bible studies for 25,000 Lutheran youth and adults, in conjunction with each day’s Mass Event.
For years, each night was dreamed about and planned, and last week they were made into reality. Walking through the text and themes of 1 John, we looked at the themes: Beloved, De-Loved, Love Lived, Live Loved, and Live Love. My role was relatively simple: unpack Scripture, connect the various elements within each evening, connect each evening to the others, and connect with 25,000 people that you can’t really see or hear. Sure. No problem.
Thankfully God was at work. He was at work throughout the entire process. He was at work through the amazing team of people. And He was certainly at work in the lives of the kids at the Gathering.
Here are just some of the tweets that I’ve read from kids at the Gathering:
“I am who Christ says I am. Nothing else matters.”
“Just got home from one of the most amazing events of my life.”
“I don’t think I’ve ever been so exhausted in my entire life.”
“Now it’s my turn to show others what it means to live loved!”
“San Antonio has changed my life forever!”
“Live Loved was a week that I’ll never forget. I’ve already been putting what I’ve learned into practice.”
“I’ve never been aware of how great God’s love is for all of us.”
“I can definitely say I’m a different person due to this amazing week.”
“it took 2years worth of Christmas, Easter, birthday,& babysitting money to go to NYG this year. #bestchoiceivemade #gladiwent”
“I honestly didn’t know to expect how much of an impact this trip would have on me.” “This past week really changed my life.”
“Never thought how changed I would become after having spent a week at NYG. Truly amazing.”
“Truly changed by NYG.”
“If you’re having a hard night, just remember that you are God’s child, and that’s the only thing that defines you.”
This picture helps capture it for me. That’s me with my Bible in hand, speaking God’s truth. But I was just a mouthpiece all week. There were actors, painters, light crews, sound crews, camera crews, stage crews. Hundreds and hundreds of volunteers putting in countless hours. But the average participant in the seats didn’t see any of the behind the scenes labor (without which the Gathering cannot happen). What did the average youth participant see? Jesus.
Through Jesus, you are beloved. Though our worldly pursuits leave us empty and deloved, God pursues us. For that reason, Love (God in the flesh) lived among us. And in Christ, we have a new identity, we are God’s children. Through that identity, we can live loved lives (focusing on the “d”). And from that secure identity, we can live out God’s love in our everyday lives.