Note to the reader: Normally, I’m not a fan of putting a tonne of text in a single blog post, but trust me when I tell you that it was almost impossible to encapsulate my experience within my self-imposed 350 word limit. Hope you enjoy the final product below. 🙂

So……this has nothing to do with the Daily Office……or the overall aim for this project..but this week, I found myself challenged, moved, and stretched in all kinds of profound ways. Simply put: it was too good a time not to share with my friends in the blogosphere. 🙂

I do feel somewhat guilty for not being able to post on Ascension Day (I try not to miss major Feast Days), and yet–at the same time–being unplugged from the virtual world seemed oddly appropriate :).

It allowed me to really connect with folks at the Common Ground Youth Ministry Forum It was nice not to be caught up in emails, blog-posts and the procrastination time-sink that is Facebook ;).

Don’t get me wrong, I love all three of those tools, and use them regularly, but this week had a real authenticity to it that I haven’t experienced in quite a while.

For those who don’t know, Common Ground was an Ecumenical Conference betwixt the Anglican, Lutheran, Presbyterian, and United Church. All told there were some 130+ delegates from across Canada gathering to worship, learn, and ponder how the Spirit is moving in the Church, and being transformed by the youth of our respective communities.

This conference was nothing short of amazing!

I can honestly say that I got something out of every single workshop….and while there’s no way I can say that I met every delegate or got to know them very well, I was (and still am) astounded at how open, honest, and vulnerable everyone seemed to be.

As ready as we all were to share our woes, concerns, and challenges when it came to youth ministry…..those narratives were small potatoes when compared to the plethora of stories about resurrection and new life…..even in the midst of some pretty dark circumstances and personal life-experiences.

Overall I am left with two lasting images and impressions from the Common Ground I and some new-found friends and colleagues stand on:

Eli and Samuel

The story of Eli and Samuel was something that our first keynote speakerused to draw us into the conference. For me it set the tone for the entire experience.

His basic point was that all those in leadership positions–especially when connected with youth–are to act as guides and God-bearers to those we minister to.

No one can be brought to God on their own. Rather, they are usually brought into the Divine Presence by someone who acts as their mentor; by someone whom they know and trust. Leaders like Eli knew that he had to encourage Samuel to listen to the voice of the LORD and not to dismiss it out of hand. Eli did this even at the peril of his own line dying out.

We too as youth leaders are asked to lead others, even if it might lead to us having less authority or control in the Church…we must always leave room for new prophets to speak truth, and to make the radical vision of God’s love known to all.

The second image that sticks with me is the Transfig:

Not gonna lie….when my alarm went off at 6am this morning so that I could be in time for a youth-service….I was somewhat loath to leave….which seems like the most contradictory thing in the universe.

After 5 straight days dedicated to outward-looking ministry, and to strong themes of spreading the Gospel and not hogging our own baptism and keeping it to ourselves….I wanted to stay in the nice warm, positive, team building cocoon of the Lamplighter Inn.

By the time we started the youth service at Weldon Park in Arva though, I found myself caught up in the infectious joy, praise and sense of fun that only younger generations can bring :).

Beyond all of that though, I found myself inspired and outright astonished by the talent, dedication, and passion lived out by the kids I am honoured to work with 🙂

It really brought home to me the importance of coming back down from the mountain…of weathering the storms of doubt, exhaustion, and pessimism….because maybe……just maybe….the world can surprise us too. +