Sunday, February 2, 2014

Passages

Almost 30 years ago I got on a church van with some of my closet friends ready to experience the special weekend.  We were headed to one of the coolest youth events around.  It was an event that was a  true right of passage for any United Methodist youth in middle Tennessee.  I had watched my oldest sister leave and return from this event numerous times and had awaited my turn.  That Friday night as I boarded the van there was a sense of wanting to fit in....

A longing to make an impression....

A desire to be known....

I wanted to be a part of this event called Warmth n Winter.

I remember the theme to this day:  What's Love Got To Do With It?  I remember sitting in the old lodge at Camp Cedar Crest.  We were all crammed into the common space upstairs; jammed between the small hallway, open kitchen, stairwell and almost floor to ceiling windows that filled the entire side of the lodge.  On the wall behind the speaker and musician (back in the day when worship consisted of a guitar player, one or two people singing songs from a stapled song sheet) was the place where we had all hung our 'love' bags. Our love bags were brown paper bags that we had each decorated with our name and something to identify ourselves from others.  Throughout the weekend we were encouraged to write notes and slip it into the bag without the person knowing (for those of you 40 or above you've surely done this some where along the way).

I can still stand in the back of that room and feel the presence.  Feel the presence of what it means to be a part of something larger than myself.  I can sense the awe that I felt when I looked around the room; almost as if I were hovering above.  The room was chilly yet warm.  The laugher was loud and conversations were numerous.  Small groups crammed into a very nock and cranny.

Something happened that weekend; the small groups...... the mile hike to the dining hall (in the snow one year).....the getting to know other youth not just from my church but around the conference....the sense of being crammed into the space....the being with others in worship...friendships that were forged in that lodge (and through other WnWs) that live on today....was all a right of passage.  It was a passage that began a journey for me and continues until this day.

Warmth n Winter is still going strong.  It like the rest of the world has experienced it's fair share of transformation.  It too has morphed from a small weekend held across three camps on the same weekend with a musician holding a guitar to a full blown event that requires a digital counter cueing the full blown band, crazy dance leader, speaker and youth leadership team as to how much time they have left on stage.  It's an event that gathered 2200 persons from across the Memphis and TN Conferences.

But tonight.....in the stillness of the evening (while the world watches football) I smile knowing that I got to experience Warmth n Winter anew because my Emma got to experience her very first Warmth n Winter.  It was a right of passage for her.....

Getting to put that lanyard around her neck
Being on her first design team
Singing the songs
Being a part of the first ever nerf war
Hanging in a really nice hotel
Hearing two great pastors (Carolyn and Vance)
Being gathered in community

And most importantly....growing a relationship with Jesus....

#wnw14selah  is now a memory and yet the beginning.....

What memory might just be opening the door to a new beginning? What right of passage is before you as you open yourself to the presence of the Holy?