Saturday, July 17, 2010

National Youth Gathering, Day 3

Hello from the National Youth Gathering, Day 3,

The day began with a two and a half mile walk outside along Convention Center Avenue. After breakfast we ventured over to the French Quarter and Bourbon Street. Many of our Youth were surprised at the number of Voodoo shops. I was surprised at how narrow Bourbon Street really is. In the all the television news reports and movies on the Mardi Gras make the street filled with merry makers seem so wide. It really is not big at all! The French influence on the architecture very fascinating.

In the afternoon our Youth went to the convention center for orientation. The structure is a mile long and most of our day time activities will be held in various rooms and convention halls right here in the convention center. So it was good to walk through and get the lay of the land.

The big event today was the mass youth gathering at the Super Dome. As we walked a mile from our hotel to the Dome, the youth came together on Poydras Street like a human river. Hundreds of young people flowed onto the sides of Poydras from the side streets like tributaries filling the main river. Each time a new group joined the flow, the electricity and excitement grew. By the time we reached the Dome, over thirty thousand people had come together. You could feel the excitement in the air!

What a sight: thirty thousand people, standing and praising God. Lutherans from 46 different states are in attendance. People sang out to the music of a great praise band. There was a group of very talented singers leading the pre-service music. The program included skits, liturgical dancing, a sand painter, and even fire crackers! Our Youth heard a very dynamic message from a Lutheran pastor who has lost 96% of his vision due to a rare hereditary eye disease. It was very moving and uplifting.

I was very impressed with the role that technology played in this mass event. It is something that the young of our nation are growing up with and have come to know and expect. For their perspective technology really enhanced the message as well as the music and other parts of the service. It got me to think that if this is reaching the younger generation, and if we are truly interested in reaching the youth and keep our own in worship, then we need at St. Paul’s need to be ready to rethink how we can use technology to further the kingdom of God.

After we returned to the hotel, we held a short group meeting to talk about the day’s events. Many different aspects of the service touched our Youth as each one shared his or her highs and lows concerning the program.

Each hotel hosts a dance following each night’s massive worship event. This gives our youth the opportunity to meet youth from other congregations and from other states. These are well chaperones and end at midnight. A number of our youth attended. I will report on their findings in tomorrow’s blog report.

All in all our youth are learning quite a bit about themselves, the scope of our Lutheran church body, and the magnitude of God’s love for them.

Keep us in your prayers as you are in ours!

God bless you and your worship this weekend!!!

Pastor George

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