Day three of our trip to New Orleans for the National Youth Gathering was our first full day of sessions and had us leaving the hotel at 9:15 am and getting back to our hotel around 11 pm. Needless to say, we are all tired from a very full day and so this post will be brief.
The day started off with Bible study at the convention center great hall with probably over 2,000 other people. The two leaders began our study of the book of Philippians by returning to the topic of the previous night’s mass event: “What is true joy?” The leaders were quite knowledgeable and funny and did a great job engaging the youth.
After Bible study the youth were let loose with their buddies to attend interest centers and participate in the experiential learning center (ELC). The interest centers ranged from classes to Q&A sessions to small groups. Some of the interest centers attended by the youth include: “Questions you wouldn’t ask your momma,” “Star wars spirituality,” and “Being a Christian athlete.” There were many others but these were some of the youth’s highlights.
During the time between interest centers the youth were able to go to the ELC which was a large room filled with numerous activities and vendor booths. The booths included different Lutheran colleges, mission organizations, food vendors, a place to donate blood, a place to donate hair, and my favorite: the Lutheran Care Companions, which is a comfort dog organization. In addition to the booths, there were many games to play, an arts and crafts area, live music, and places to experience simulations of what it is like to live in third world countries or be in a refugee camp.
After a full day of activities we walked to dinner at Bubba Gump Shrimp (of Forrest Gump Fame) and did some souvenir shopping while we waited for our seating time. Once dinner was completed, we walked once again to the Superdome for the evening's mass event, for which we were seated on the Superdome floor. While the Superdome seemed large sitting in the stands, it seemed even bigger from our seats on the floor.
The theme for tonight’s mass event was: “What is our identity in Christ?” The event began by challenging us to think about "what do we consider our identity" and "what things motivate us and drive us." Through this we arrived at the reality that when we consider our identities, we often ask the question: “Am I good enough?” which at its root is fundamentally a question of "Are we righteous or not."
The speakers and skits then challenged our notion of righteousness being founded in what we do, and brought us to realize that righteousness is found in Christ alone. As it says in Philippians 3:8, “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.“
All of our good works, our accomplishments, our relationships are all rubbish when compared to the righteousness that is found in Christ alone. It is this identity as a righteous child of God, through the work of Christ, which ought to be the foundation of our identity.
Please keep us in your prayers! Specific prayer requests/praises for Monday are:
Praise and Thanksgiving
- The excellent work of the New Orleans P.D. and other local organizations.
- The tireless efforts of the volunteers to help make this experience great.
- A much easier time getting into and out of the Superdome today.
- The friends and families of the police officers attacked in Baton Rouge, LA.
- Safety for all law enforcement, especially those protecting us this week.
- The health of youth and chaperones.