A World of Difference. That was the theme for this summer’s youth conference at Montreat Conference Center in Montreat, NC. The two weeks I worked on the planning team- the group of youth and adults who work behind the scenes to make their two weeks of conference happen, we served over 2100 youth and their chaperones. We talked a lot with the youth about how they can make a world of difference in their family, their church, their school, their friend group. We talked about choices and priorities and how we are beloved children of God. Good things for youth to hear, good things for you and me to hear too!
Here at Stillwater United Church we have been reading Shauna Niequist’s book Cold Tangerines this summer. It’s a book that calls us to pay attention to our lives, to celebrate every day, and to celebrate who we are as children of God made in God’s image. It can be easy to celebrate each day when you’re sitting in the front pew with 1200 people behind you singing and praying and worshiping each day. It can be harder to do that in the routine of your everyday life.
Something I hope the youth took with them was that part of how you make a world of difference is simply by being yourself. God has created you- unique and creative and wonderful, and you are here on this earth for a reason. So do the work of figuring it out. Find out who you are and what God is calling you to do, by doing that you’ll make a world of difference to everyone you meet. In Niequists’ book she gives great advice and encouragement for this task, she says “You have stories worth telling, memories worth remembering, dreams worth working toward, a body worth feeding, a soul worth tending, and beyond that, the God of the universe dwells within you, the true culmination of super and natural. You are more than dust and bones. You are spirit and power and image of God. And you have been given Today.”
My prayer for all of us is that we’re able to celebrate who we are created to be and all that God has given us. Some days we’ll celebrate on the mountaintop, and some days from the bottom of a valley; and God will be with us because God loves us and never leaves us. May we use our lives to witness to God’s amazing love, and to make a difference in the lives of all those we meet.
1Niequist, Shauna Cold Tangerines. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2007. Page 18.
Rachel is a Teaching Elder at Stillwater United Church. When she’s not hanging out with her dog Mr. Bennet, she likes to read, take pictures, and explore parks and coffee shops.
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