On July 2, four youth and two adults crammed into a minivan and endured the traffic, the heat, and the teenage bodily aromas on a trip to Concordia University, Chicago for the Higher Things youth conference. (On the way home, the youth wrote brief summaries about their experiences, which follow later in this issue of the Messenger). Over the four days of the conference, the youth ate, worshipped, learned, and had fun. They even got a little sleep!
The theme for the conference was “Concordia.” And as they gathered each day under that theme, they learned more about the meaning of concordia. ‘Concordia’ means “peace, harmony, or unity.” It speaks of a one-heartedness. We find this harmony in Scripture in the Garden of Eden (before the fall), where Adam and Eve had concordia with each other and with God. We find Concordia in the foundation of the church, where all the believers “were of one heart and mind” (Acts 4:32).
Yet when we look around at the church today, we see an absolute LACK of concordia. Bickering with the church. We find people desiring to do what is right in their own eyes – (which is wrong, right? because it is different than what is right in MY eyes). We find denominations, closed communion, separation based on worship practices, separation based on age, gender – anything you can imagine!
Why? Because we are a bunch of sinners gathered together by the Holy Spirit and stuck in a box together that is called the church. Sinners sin. They hurt each other. Sinners seek their own good above the good of others.
So if there is to be peace, it must be an objective peace, a peace that comes from outside of us. We must have our divisive hearts and lives normed by something outside of our own wants and desires. They must be normed by Scripture, by Jesus’ life and death. They must be normed by His forgiveness. And when each of us have our hearts, minds, and lives normed by that, then there is concordia, harmony, and peace. Because we are forgiven and one in Christ.
There is so much more to talk about the conference, but so little space. I encourage you, if you have computer access, to go back and view the videos of the conference. I have placed links on the “St. Peter Lutheran Church, Huntington, Indiana” Facebook group. I especially encourage you to watch sessions 3 and 4, which focus on what happens when concordia breaks-down.
Thank you for your prayers and support during this past trip, and we do hope to include even more youth in our next trip. Next year’s theme is “Watermarked.” Conferences will be held in Fort Collins, CO (June 29-July 2); Maryville, MO (July 7-10); Knoxville, TN (July 14-17); and Grand Rapids, MI (July 21-24).