We are either baptized into Jesus' death and resurrection or, as the Rev. Richard Rohr says in his book "Eager to Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi," "Christianity is largely a mere belonging system, not a transformational system that will change the world." The ELCA Youth Gathering has been and will always be a ministry that transforms the lives of teenagers, and transformed people of God transform the world.
I promise that youth and adults who attend the ELCA Youth Gathering will know the opening line of Mark’s Gospel: “The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mark 1:1) And, they will know that they are the ones who carry the good news of Jesus into the world.
Though your destination is not clear
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is one with your life’s desire.
Why are we so captivated by celebrities’ acts of kindness? I have been overly aware, particularly during this past Christmas season, pictures of celebrities offering a day at a soup kitchen, or ballyhooing a good cause, or sharing their talents to benefit a charitable organization. Magazines are filled with pictures and stories of our favorite movie stars or athletes doing good.
While driving back to Chicago from Detroit a few months ago, I listened to a segment on public radio in which a business professor was talking about the national trend of lower enrollment in MBA programs. There are as many reasons for this trend as there are schools creatively addressing it, but I primarily heard affirmation for the ELCA Youth Gathering. I know that wasn’t the producer’s intention, but let me explain how I got there:
I recently returned from a meeting of the Detroit Convention and Visitors Bureau Customer Advisory Board. Three key leaders spoke to the board – two representing billionaires Dan Gilbert and Mike Illich, who are investing millions in Detroit’s reinvention, and a rep from the mayor’s office. He reported the metrics of lights being turned back on, emergency services response times being brought more in line with the national average and, most exciting to me, the mayor’s commitment to neighborhood stabilization.
It is easy to get caught up in these kinds of presentations. The power of big money to reinvent a city like Detroit is astonishing.