This summer, I had the privilege to join 6 other caring adults to accompany 29 Sheridan youth to Houston, Texas for the ELCA Youth Gathering. We joined with more than 30,000 other ELCA Lutherans to praise, to learn and to change.
The theme was “This Changes Everything.” During the week we heard from numerous speakers, musicians and witnesses about the power of God’s Call, God’s Love, God’s Grace, and God’s Hope to CHANGE EVERYTHING. Those are God’s gifts, but what do we need to do to earn these gifts? Nothing. He has watched us grow and bloom, he has created us and formed us in his image, and he knows what we want and need. And he provides for us as his gift of grace.
But because we were given these gifts, do we just sit back and receive? At Christmas, birthdays, graduations, Valentine’s Day, do we just sit back and receive and take? No, we give too. And in my time this summer at various worship services and events, I have been reminded that our role as Christians is to give BECAUSE we have received.
On one of the days in Houston, we were 36 of 10,000 engaged with the city’s greatest needs. We were orange-shirted warriors of service, cleaning the city’s public areas, helping immigrants learn the language of their new home, reading the words of hope to young children. The Sheridan youth were engaged in cleaning up a main park in the city. After 3 hours of scrubbing, raking, and cleaning they wanted more time to help. They wanted this because that is what we do at Sheridan, we help because we know we have been given so much. We give because God’s role in our lives have changed everything for us and we want to share that change with others.
The power of seeing our youth and those of the congregations around the country was powerful. I always loved being with youth, being around their energy and excitement. The week in Houston just reinvigorated my belief that this is a generation that will accept their gifts and see those bloom and share with others to make a change in others. One of the speakers, Marlon Hall, said “You were made to make an indelible mark on the world that only you can make. And if you don’t make it…it won’t be made.” That is the call to take our gift from God and transform the world with it.
Great and loving God, we give you thanks for our many gifts of your grace. You have given us the power of your call, your love, your grace and your hope to change everything. Help us to share these gracious gifts and be living examples of your love. We will fail, but with your help, we can keep working to share your love with the world. Open our hearts and our kids to be engaged in the changing world. You have changed us so we can change others. Help us to stand up, with and for all others. By grace we have been saved through faith. This is not our doing, it is your gift.
Written by Melissa Abele
Melissa Abele has been a member of the Women’s Ministry Team since it began. She and Jeff have been married for 19 years and have 2 daughters: Madalynn (15) and Lily (9). Jeff & Melissa own their own business, Move Creative, a mobile app development company. In her free time, Melissa loves to read, travel, and spend time with family. The Sheridan community has been a true blessing and second home to the family since they joined more than 12 years ago.