Matthew 18:20 says, “For where two, or three, gather in my name there am I with them.” This year at Pilgrimage, there are thousands of youth and leaders under one roof worshiping our Father. The house band sang “Holy Spirit you are welcome here, come flood this place and fill the atmosphere.” That is exactly what happened tonight.
Special guest: Morgan Harper Nichols
Tonight we were blessed to have the award-winning singer, author, and speaker Morgan Harper Nichols from Los Angeles, California. She informed us that she enjoys hearing others stories, which inspired her to compose songs. She first tells us about a girl who had trouble fitting in; she couldn’t find her place.
Morgan said, “It didn’t matter where she belonged it only mattered who she belonged to.” God wants us to share our story with others; your story is worth telling!
Many of you may know her little sister, Jamie Grace. Morgan watched Jamie walk through a tough health diagnosis as a child, but it was through the grace of God that helped her get through it. This relates to us on many levels as we walk through struggles in our lives; God is always there to pick us up and lead us to the table.
Testimony: Jared Izzo (Garber UMC)
When Jared was in sixth grade, he was best friends with Nick and Levi. They grew up down the street from one another: they made many memories together when they were in middle school. However, their friendship would soon be put through a test of distance.
Many times distance can cause us to drift away from each other. Levi’s family was military, and they moved to Florida. The distance made the three boys relationship grow even stronger.
On November 19, during his sophomore year of high school, Jared’s father showed up to his school to check him out. His father informed him that he had some bad news; when he got home, he saw his mother was distraught. He was then told that his best friend Levi had shot himself attempting to commit suicide.
Jared didn’t know how to react when he heard this. His biggest question was WHY? Why would he do this to everyone who loved him?
Confusion and despair came across the three families as they struggled to understand why Levi would do this to everyone that loved him. The families drove to Florida to see Levi in the hospital. They told him their goodbyes and prayed with him one last time. Jared says, “God was the only way that he could get through this.” God’s grace comforts in our time of need. Jared says that God told him he had a seat for him at his table.
He is very grateful for his youth group who stepped up in his time of need and helped him keep going. Through this struggle, he gained a spiritual uplift, and God used this event to help shape him. During our times of darkness God is still there, he will never leave you nor forsake you. You are not alone, God loves you, and he is always there for you.
Sermon: Rachel Held Evans
Rachel starts her message off with a poll. She asks the crowd:
- Who has ever been to Cracker Barrel?
- Who has ever eaten an insect?
- Who has ever eaten pet food?
- Who has ever participated in a fast?
- Who remembers a time when they were hangry?
Rachel tells us a story of when she got together with her family in Colonial Williamsburg. No one had brought any food, and it was already 3 pm, they were very hungry. The only restaurant that was serving food had outrageous prices. They got some food and shared it. This is the only way most have ever experienced hunger. Matthew 5:6 states, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”
When we think about hunger, we only think about what the flesh needs, not what our spirit needs. The spirit needs to be one with God’s intentions, to fulfill his desires, to long with every fiber of your being, to break the chains of oppression, and mend broken relationships. How many of us long for that? As Christians, we need to let justice roll down like a river.
When we come to the table for communion, we experience only a small taste of what God has in store for us. It’s a time for us to put aside our differences and gather at the table as one. It’s not a table for the worthy; it’s a table for the hungry! One day we will be able to feast in the kingdom with our Father in heaven. There will be no pain and suffering, no more war or sadness, and no more starving. For now, we come to the table for a little taste of the kingdom. The table makes us hunger for what is to come in God’s kingdom. As we share this time together, it should serve as a reminder of our hunger for the Lord.
*Article written by Jesse Smith and Timothy Woolard