“What are you doing New Year’s, New Year’s Eve?” A holiday question made popular by some of the world’s greatest entertainers. Ok, so maybe it is the wrong time of year to ask such a question, given I never really know from one year to the next what my New Year’s plans will involve. But I do know one thing for sure, and that is what I’ll be doing for Thanksgiving! Unlike many, my thanksgiving weekend no longer simply involves a quiet sit-down turkey dinner with close family and friends, but rather an incredible weekend with a mere twelve to fifteen hundred of my young brothers and sisters in Christ! For me, Thanksgiving means YCNL.
It was in 2000 that I made my “History Makers” pledge. However, the teenage-me that awkwardly stood with my peers in the Glacier stadium had no idea that 17 years later I would still be a part of making history at YCNL. So what is it that keeps me coming back? Why do I give up my holiday weekend at home to spend tireless hours with a group of teens? The simple answer would be my love for Christ, but the full reason undoubtedly involves my love of seeing the next generation find their place in God’s family.
Although my role has changed from youth participant to youth minister, the experience of God’s unending love at YCNL remains the same. I certainly count it a blessing to spend a weekend with young people who are searching and hungry for more of God. After all, bringing the lost, the lonely, and the burdened, to the One who can truly heal us and set us free is the ultimate reason for ministry in the first place, is it not? Whether I bring a group of five or fifty, or if it were for just one, I would commit to a full weekend at YCNL to see a single life changed, renewed in Christ.
Having the opportunity to spend my Thanksgiving weekend in the presence of the Lord is not a hard decision. In fact, in my mind, and I’m sure other youth leader will agree, there is not much more to be thankful for than a room full of teens worshiping our awesome God. Indeed, my heart is truly thankful that YCNL provides an opportunity for the full body of Christ to come together as one. Denominational walls are struck down and those gathered focus more on what we all hold in common rather than what sets us apart. Wasn’t it when the disciples were all gathered in one place and were in one accord that the Holy Spirit showed up (Acts 2)? Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that transcendent experience when spiritual gifts are imparted and the church is set on fire to serve Him? What a powerful LAUNCH that would be!
So, what are you doing this Thanksgiving?
Thankful in Christ,
Youth Lay Minister at St. Thomas’ Anglican Church