I was in New Orleans for the ELCA Youth Gathering. I invited participants from Windsor Heights Lutheran Church to offer their reflections throughout the week on koinonia. This article was a shared effort among the 11 youth participants.
We are on the bus and our week has been "fantasmical." We all got super close, like family. All of us have gotten to know a little bit more about each other and ourselves. Hopefully we will be able to bring what this whole experience taught us back to Windsor Heights. However the experience we had in New Orleans may not be able to translate to those back home, finding the right words to describe how our lives all changed in different ways, and the ways they changed is extremely hard. But that’s the beautiful thing about it.
Through crazy awesome concerts, worship, and conversation, we all learned more about our personal faith as well as the lives of Lutherans all over the country. Also, the food was fantastic! The motivational speakers got a lot of everyone’s attention. All of them talked about subjects that touched everyone and they were able to get their point across even though most people in the audience have not, and will hopefully never have to go through what some of the speakers went through. One of the messages was that everyone is a child of God. No one should be turned away because of race, financial situations, past history, etc.
Coming from a multi-generational church, with a lower number of youth members right now, it was amazing to see so many youth participating in the songs, speakers, and activities. The energy was outrageous in the Superdome! We hope the energy can be spread through the pews at WHLC and you will see the energy in our eyes and hearts, and feed off it!
When we first arrived in the Superdome, I remember thinking that I had never seen so many people gathered together in for the same reason. But that wasn’t even the most impressive part. I had never seen so many young people excited about God. Back in our everyday lives, God often falls to the background and things like relationships and friends and drama take the forefront; but it was like once we all set foot in NOLA all the worries of our home lives melted away and our attention was 100% focused on how to love like Jesus. Overall everyone had an wonderful time. We learned many things such as “to be known is to be loved and to be loved is to be known”... and also, “be the the change you want to see in the world.”
NOLA has been through a lot, but so have communities just like it across the country. We need to be mindful of the needs of people back home. It takes all of us to be citizens with the saints. As one speaker described gumbo and all its ingredients to the crowd, I thought of WHLC and all the ingredients that it has to make our own version of gumbo back home.
Kirsten Benson, Rylee Freise, Rebecca Ihnen, Julia Ratekin, Travis Reinders, Emily Roose, Brian Rye, Petir Thompson, Hannah Toresdahl, Madison Ward, Caroline Warmuth