Friday, January 25, 2013
Flashback Friday: Youth Sunday 1999
This vintage post first appeared on this blog in 2010.
I am sure that many of you are aware of "live blogging," the act of attending an event and blogging while you watch. Such blogs usually contain reports of the actual event as well as opinionated comments from the blogger. Today I introduce you to "retro-blogging." This is the act of watching a VHS tape from over a decade ago and creating a blog post from the event. As with live blogs, this post will contain actual information about the event as well as lame comments from the writer. I hope you enjoy!
The tape I am watching is from a Youth Sunday at FUMC-K in the Spring of 1999. We did at least one of these youth-led Sundays each year while I was serving the church in Kissimmee; they were always well received and the students loved doing them. This tape was made for me by the great Pat Pribyl during the 8:30 AM service; we actually did all three services that day. So let's get started!
Cathy Thacker (former Youth Counselor who was by then on the church staff and is now a UMC pastor) did the announcements (John and Pat Willis were away) and had the honor of breaking the news to many unsuspecting elderly attenders that the youth were in charge of the service. She also mentioned that the United Methodist Committee on Relief was seeking money to help with the influx of refugees from Kosovo. Seems like a lifetime ago. I am sure there was still some confusion in the congregation at this point, for after Cathy sat down...nothing happened! There were no youth sitting in the choir area, which is where the youth always were on such Sundays. The only people upfront were Andrew Lewis and the Youth Praise Band, and they were not playing. Eventually, Kristen Landry and Lindsey Lupfer came down the aisles, serving as acolytes, and brought in the "Light of Christ." Then they left as well. It seemed as if we had forgotten what came next...
Suddenly the silence was pierced by the sound of a lone flautist (I believe it was Sara Kohl?) playing Prepare Ye from Godspell. The flute was then joined by a lone voice (the camera is not showing the congregation, it is showing the platform, so I don't know who sang first) from the crowd, and after one time through the chorus another voice joined in. And then another. My memory tells me it was the Reep twins and Jill Souther who were the first three voices, but I am not certain. After the three voices had joined as one, the Praise Band kicked in and all of the youth and Youth Counselors- about 60 people total- who were hiding in the congregation begin to stand, sing and make their way to the choir loft. There is clapping, shouting, smiling- mostly from the participants. The congregations still looks a bit confused. Finally the whole group is in place. It was a great (if I may say so myself), albeit under-appreciated, opening to worship. (Full disclosure: I just had to pause the tape so I could move clothes from the washer to the dryer. This retro blogging thing is hard work!)
We opened the next part of worship with what was referred to in those days as a Praise Block. For us it was a chance to sing some of our favorite music in worship with our church family. For many others, it meant standing for a long period of time singing songs they didn't know and/or didn't much care for! I introduced the first song, I Found Jesus, by acknowledging this fact; I said "You may not know this song, but sing it anyway!" There was loud laughter. The Praise Band cranked it up. The band featured Jacob Lupfer on keyboards, Jay Lynes on bass, Tommy Weaver and Jason Fry on guitars, and Josh Fry on drums. After the first song, Colleen Martin gave the congregation an official youth welcome, telling them that "this might get a little weird, and it's not going to be what you are used to." A wonderful understatement. The band and Andrew then led us through great versions of Lord I Lift Your Name On High and Lord You Have My Heart. The band sat down and Andrew led us in a rousing chorus of Step By Step ("Oh God, You are my God..."), and then I took over and led our favorite youth group worship tune, Sing Alleluia to the Lord. I've said it here before and will do so again at some point, but when that group sang that song it was like the angels were joining in- and this time was no exception.
The old folks finally got to sit down so that Sara Autrey and Jay Lynes could do the Children's Moment. They used an apple to talk about the Fruits of the Spirit, and how having God in our lives makes us do good things. The fruits theme continued with a skit featuring Adam Hill as a thorn bush who thinks he is a fig tree, and Nate Kern as a passer-by. Adam tries to convince Nate to try a fig; all Nate could see were thorns. Adam tries a dozen different arguments, including seeking to convince Nate that his thorns are in fact spiked figs. It was a very well done, hilarious skit that hopefully illustrates that you aren't truly a Christian if there is no fruit in your life. To make certain everyone "got it," this is followed by Teresa Reep (one of our seniors) reading the scripture about fruits from Galatians 5:16-26. At one point while reading, she stumbles on the phrase "sexual immorality." I cannot prove it, but it sounds as if she was about to say "sexual immortality" and caught herself. A shame, really...THAT would have stirred some discussion on scripture!
Next up were three more seniors who were delivering the Message for the day. Jill Souther was first, talking about how she only had 30 days of high school left, and about overcoming doubt and obstacles in her own life with faith. She told several good stories to illustrate her point. (I went to get a bottle of water and left the tape running; you know, that Jill could really talk!!!) Once Jill was done, Cyndi Reep (only 25 days left) took the pulpit and talked openly about feeling as if she had slipped away from God in her senior year. She then pointed out, quite brilliantly, that our spiritual journey contains both mountains and valleys, and that we tend to grow in our faith more in the valleys. Jacob Lupfer went last, and spoke from the heart to his church family. He estimated that he had "met God in this place" over 900 times in his life, which he deduced made him an elder at age 18. Jacob, who had bright red hair, also questioned if as he got older and his hair started turning gray would it, at some point, be pink? He encouraged people to reach out and share their faith with the community, chiding himself for not having done a better job, and exulting some of his peers for being master evangelists. All three speakers were excellent that day; I am still proud of them as I write this today. They were not just "cute youth;" they said important things!
We were now headed down the home stretch of this service. Melissa Lynes took Joys and Concerns from the congregation and led us all in prayer. Celia Thacker and myself presented information about Compassion International to the crowd, explaining that we as a youth group were now sponsoring two children, and that we had 19 others we hoped that different families, Sunday School classes and small groups in the church would sponsor. Erica Souther then called our Youth Ushers forward and prayed over the offering. As the special music while the plates were passed the entire youth choir sang dc Talk's Into Jesus. I loved that song then, but looking back, it needs to placed in the Youth Group Jukebox of Cheese. It was not much of a group singing song... The service closed with the entire congregation singing Pass It On (I managed to play it without laughing), which featured rousing shouts of PRAISE GOD from the youth at the appropriate times. And looking back this morning, I do indeed praise God for days like that one.
I didn't know it at the time (I certainly do now), but in many ways that day marked the end of an era at FUMC-K. In a few weeks John Willis would be moved (A bad memory-I just shivered and broke out in a cold sweat!) to another church; this important group of seniors would graduate; and I would enter a summer with an intern not named Jerry Hanbery. A cold wind was about to blow through the church. But on that day, God was smiling on us and the Holy Spirit was moving among us. This retro blogging is pretty cool- but in all honesty, you had to be there! Have a blessed weekend!
Because of Jesus,