Greetings Grace Families and Friends
Hope you all are staying warm during this cold snap we're having here in Minnesota. We all knew it was coming at some point but we know warmer days are just around the corner, no matter what a groundhog may have had to say about it last week.
This weekend while trying to stay warm, I had to chance to attend my very first ELCA Youth Extravaganza. The extravaganza is a gathering each year of people from churches all over the country that work with youth in the church. Normally it is a gathering at a hotel or convention center with vendors and workshops along with worship and time to network with other youth leaders. This year the conference was held all virtually. I had no idea what to expect but I was ready for it. I made a nice cozy spot upstairs away from my family. Settled in with a nice warm mug of coffee and got ready to get go.
The theme for the Extravaganza was "Holding Loosely." Workshops and large group sessions revolved around five main questions
· How do we help those we work with navigate the grief of losing “normal?” How do we navigate that same grief for ourselves?
· How do we care for ourselves in the midst of accompanying others in their pain?
· How do we navigate change?
· What should we do next?
· How do we find hope in the midst of chaos?
Within the conference we were reminded of Ephesians 2:8 that says "for by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your won doing; it is the gift of God." It is a reminder that we place our trust in God's grace, which provides guidance and directions during these hard days and that this grace is a gift that we discover when we hold loosely.
I am glad I was able to attend this conference even though it was not quite the networking event they normally are. It may have also been exhausting to be staring at a screen for hours watching videos and participating in zoom calls but it was also rejuvenating as I found words of encouragement. A few things that have stars next them in my notes say, "Vision is a picture of the future that produces Passion," "Every seed has what it needs to be a tree," and "weep with those that weep and rejoice with those who rejoice." That last one I really liked. We share highs and lows with kids during confirmation and during our adult bible study, we start by talking about things that we see beautiful in life that week and things that are painful. To be in Christian community like that is so important because not everything is always perfect and to share that grief with others and processing that grief together helps us all get through it.
That all I have for you this week. Maybe I will expand more on this next week. I hope you all have a great week and stay warm. No matter how cold it gets outside when the sun is shining as it is through my office windows right now I cannot help but be reminded of the warmth of God in my life.