Rev Raymond Schultz, National Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, writes a regular column for each issue of Canada Lutheran.
ELCIC congregations are welcome to republish this material in their church publications. Please acknowledge its original publication by including the credit line:
Canada Lutheran, Volume 21, Issue 6.
More of Bishop Ray's writing can be found in From the Bishop including texts from sermons and addresses.
Give high-fives to the people who ran this year's national youth gathering. Give a place in the ROM to those who thought up the idea years ago. Sing and dance before God who gives us these gracious gifts. Little though we are among the religious tribes of Canada, the Almighty has done great things for us!
I wish the rest of our church could know how good it was to be there. A lot of people are scared of youth, but I'm not! When I'm with you, my inner adolescent gets to play with someone who understands the game.
You are good kids. You are good kids in a pretty bad world. People think you don't know truth from reality because of the TV and video games you play, but that's not what I think. I found that you know a lot about the world of hypocrisy and cold smiles. In a world of faked sincerity, your genuine openness is the real threat.
Pastor Kathy Martin nailed the truth about truth in the closing gathering. She preached about self-centred religious people.
So obey everything they teach you, but don't do as they do. After all, they say one thing and do something else.
They pile heavy burdens on people's shoulders and won't lift a finger to help. Everything they do is just to show off in front of others. They even make a big show of wearing Scripture verses . . . . Matthew 23:3–5a (CEV)
You were being challenged to honour our church's core theme: In Mission for Others. You did it. You took a good look at the youth gathering's call to a "Full Serve" life. Self-serve is quick and immediately gratifying, but it neglects the unseen parts of your car and it deprives service workers of income. "Full Serve" is the way of Christ.
I wish our church had the wisdom to let you share in leading us into the future. You are so bold, so energetic, so imaginative and so aware. St. Paul did not say you are the tools of the body of Christ; he said you are the body parts. Christ smells the roses through your noses, sees poverty through your eyes, feels pain through your emotions, hears jokes through your ears. You give us refreshingly different Christs in a world of same old, same old. The Christ you celebrate feels like he's alive.
Pastor Kathy told us many emotional stories. She told us how she felt in those situations, but then she always said, "This isn't about me. This is about being In Mission for Others."
There you are, ready to serve. I wonder when we will have the grace to bring our emptiness to you and let you 'Fill er up!'
Bishop Raymond Schultz
Canada Lutheran, September 2006