Today, being the Sunday following Mothers Day Sunday, Eastwood Christian Church (Disciples) held the annual Youth Sunday. Believe you me, dear reader, "Youth Sunday" at ECC(DC) is NOT "just another Sunday" or even "another Youth Sunday". It's far from the "same ol' same ol'". Each of the three such Sundays Eastwood has had since I joined (A.D. 2008) has been vastly different from the other two!
To start out with, this time around we had nobody graduating from either high school nor college. Lacking a grad to deliver the sermon, the duty fell on our Associate Pastor, Michael Lehman -- a first for Youth Sunday as far as I know.
(This does not mean our youth group is getting any smaller; it's merely the way age and school year distribution works out.)
Altho' Eastwood is blessed with many musically talented young people (several sing in the choir and/or play instruments), I suspect the current batch contains all the more! If true this is good news: barring any unforseen tragedy such as a move out of State they'll all be back for the NEXT Youth Sunday!
Yes, the morning's Anthem, "Homeward Bound", was sung by a male youth quartet, and several young folk delivered the Response in Song (to "Pastor Mickey"'s message) - more about that oh-so-special song shortly. But even starting with the Prelude music we had a young person, John Hartley (younger son of Pastor Jay), playing a spiritual tune on his violin (fiddle if you will). Shortly afterwards, in a novel twist on the childrens time/sermon we had "Grown-Ups Time", heralded by new lyrics to "Jesus Loves the Little Children":
...Jesus loves all the grown-ups, all the grown-ups of the world;
...Mean or cool or Jay Hartley, Jesus loves you so do we. . . !
We celebrated the Lord's Supper as we do on First Sundays: coming forward via central aisle to take a piece of bread, do intinction (dipping the morsel into chalice contents, then consuming) and then forming a circle around the sanctuary walls. Once all had partaken, Choir Director Julie stationed herself in a front pew with cue cards and the youth (or most of them) sang "I Will Rise" for the Closing Song. During a brief instrumental bridge before the final refrane some of us adult choir members stepped out of our places in the closing circle "surrounded" the youth while joining in the song:
...And I hear the voice of many angels sing, "Worthy is the Lamb!"
...And I hear the cry of ev'ry longing heart, "Worthy is the Lamb!"
The adult choristers doing such symbolized adult support of and love for our unique youth group, and our role as earthly portion of their "cloud of witnesses".
Speaking of "Cloud of Witnesses", this was the theme of Youth Sunday, taken from Hebrews 12:1 a verse from Scriptures read in the service. Indeed, Heb. 11:29-12:2 were the basis for the day's sermon: "No Ordinary Fans". It was also the title of the oh-so-special Anthem I mentioned earlier. Originally the lyrics were composed by Donna Gunn, one of our very bright and creative young folk at Eastwood and daughter of the church secretary, as a poem. But she wanted it to be more than poetry and so she asked "Pastor Mickey" to help her by composing a song. And what the two came up with stands as the most awesome of the many awesome elements of Youth Sunday 2011 at Eastwood Church!
Or as I told "Pastor Mickey" after the Sunday potluck dinner that followed Worship, "of all the several awesome elements, the song you and Donna co-wrote was 'the awesome-est'!" The Title in quotations is who the worship bulletin specified would deliver the sermon. While speaking about many positives and endearing traits of our youth group Michael mentioned that this was the nickname they came up with for him. And yes, he did at this point don mouse ears!
Ha, ha! I love and enjoy and rejoice in my church family! Thank God for Eastwood Church! May the Lord continue to bless the family who gather at 1604 Eastland Avenue in East Nashville to do what we do so well with the Spirit's and each other's help: love one another in our diversity and lovingly serve the community He has set us in!