I waited patiently for the Lord;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
3 He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
and put their trust in him. – Psalm 40:1-3
“Where WFPC so obviously shines is when it comes to the enthusiasm, the passion, the authenticity, the joy – the sheer energy that seems to surround everything that is done in the name of Jesus.”
Typically after a Youth Sunday here at Wake Forest Presbyterian Church I will share a slew of photographs and there will be this sense of awe at somewhere around a hundred teens crowding the steps at the front of the sanctuary (click here if you want to see pics from 2019).
This year worship was a carefully choreographed and beautifully knit-together on-line event led primarily by our 20-plus graduating 12th graders.
Their theme this year – since back in the fall – has been, “Living a Life Uncommon.” What does it mean to follow Jesus and to discover how life as a Christian is never routine, never run-of-the-mill, and certainly not just like everyone else? How does faith make us – encourage us to be – uncommon and, well, exceptional?
It’s a great question, and a great testimony, especially in times such as these!
Impressive, authentic, enthusiastic faith:
I’ve got to tell you, I was impressed. Impressed by their eloquence, by their commitment to follow Jesus, and by their attitude of grace and purposeful belief in the face of this unsettling pandemic. (Here is a video of the service – worth watching!)
Kudos also to their leaders, to Katherine and Janet (on staff) and to the literally dozens of committed folk who work with all the grades with such dedication and obvious love.
Now I know we are not alone in this, and I am sure other churches are using creative ideas to keep everyone connected, but where WFPC so obviously shines is when it comes to the enthusiasm, the passion, the authenticity, the joy – the sheer energy that seems to surround everything that is done in the name of Jesus.
I think the only word that does justice to the scenes that played out Sunday evening is ebullience. There is a joy and a radiance here that tells the story of the Gospel of Light so eloquently and with such power.
So Rebekah and I drove to the church campus where more than 20 graduating 12th graders were stationed in the parking lot, behind their cars, dressed in caps and gowns. The idea was, between 6:00 and 6:30, for parents and youth advisors and church leaders (and it turns out, just about everybody!) to drive by and make some noise.
I don’t know what I expected. I just know that whatever it was it was far more, so much more! Banners! Encouragement! Cars blaring out every arrangement of Pomp and Circumstance ever recorded! Honking! People in the beds of pick-ups throwing candy! Noise! Yelling! Joy! Laughter! Cars filled with entire family units.
Then of course there was the senior pastor, walking in front of my car handing out gifts while “maintaining social distance” requirements, just about bursting with the desire to hug everyone but somehow managing to hold back!
In just ten minutes I counted probably forty vehicles coming through, circling the roundabout in front of the church, then heading off into the evening. Many more were lining up as we left.
And the noise! What a beautiful symphony of life! Such joy at almost – almost but nowhere near quite – being together again. I sensed such desire to be together as a community, such love, such belief not only in our graduates but in this church and the work we are doing here in Wake Forest.
What a boost! Youth Sunday is always a beautiful joy and this one – especially what transpired in the evening in the church parking lot – was much needed joy, much needed expressions of love, much needed assurance.
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for, and assurance about what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1). But we could see it yesterday, just a little, and we could taste it too.
And we wait. Maybe not so patiently as we should – DEREK
Derek has published seven books in the past decade (you can find them at https://www.amazon.com/Derek-Maul/e/B001JS9WC4), and there’s always something new in the works.
Before becoming a full-time writer, Derek taught public school in Florida for eighteen years, including cutting-edge work with autistic children. He holds bachelor’s degrees in psychology and education from Stetson University and the University of West Florida.
Derek is active in teaching at his church: adult Sunday school, and a men’s Bible study/spiritual formation group. He enjoys the outdoors, traveling, photography, reading, cooking, playing guitar, and golf.