by Heidi Gaub
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith- and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
The best week out of my year, hands down, is the Higher Things conference. This year I served as a Christ on Campus Volunteer (CCV) for the Given conference in Logan, UT. It was my fourth conference attended, my second time as a CCV. As always, Higher Things did not disappoint.
This year we focused on the theme “Given”, the gifts God has given to us through his Son, Jesus Christ. The plenary sessions, in-depths, and breakaways, although varied in topic, focused on these gifts given through Christ. The liturgy, marriage, confession and absolution, the Ten Commandments, the Lord’s Prayer, and baptism, are examples of God’s gifts to us that were looked into further at this year’s conferences. All of these sessions also reinforced that these gifts were GIVEN TO us. That Christ died FOR us. It is nothing that we did for we are sinners and can do nothing worthy of these gifts. God does not need our worship and praise, he does not need us to confess our sins, or to pray. These are gifts that are FOR us, to strengthen our faith and to keep us in His Word, for He has GIVEN us eternal salvation through His Son.
We went to 10 worship services that week, two of those being the Divine Service, and we also prayed Compline every night. These services delivered God’s gifts to us through the Word and Sacrament, the liturgy, and confession and absolution. These worship services always fill my eyes with tears, simply because I am so amazed at 500+ youth singing “We Praise You and Acknowledge You” and chanting the liturgy with such sincerity and faith.
I love what Higher Things does and I could not be more thankful to the people who help keep this organization running. It is so important for the young people to come and worship, learn, and enjoy the company of their brothers and sisters in Christ. It has been said before that we live in a time that makes it very difficult to be Lutheran but these youth “Dare to be Lutheran!”
It is incredible to walk out of a breakaway teaching session and hear high-school aged youth talking about how great the session was and that they want to hear the pastor speak again. It is amazing to hear them asking questions, trying to learn as much as they can in a one-hour session. It is refreshing to hear youth talking about worship services, the Bible, and the catechism and not topics that would so frequently take up the conversation of teenagers today. It is wonderful to see them making new friends, and meeting new people from all over the country who share their faith.
Although I served as a CCV of the conference, I was still able to attend all the worship services, plenary sessions, in-depths, and breakaways. Sure, I ran around like a crazy person the rest of the time but to me it was all worth it. I do this for the youth because I am grateful someone did the same for me when I was an attendee. I learned so much and took new knowledge and understanding home with me. You know Higher Things is doing something right when a sleep-deprived volunteer can stay awake during all the sessions, eager to learn, and when she rolls out of bed at 4:30 in the morning to pray the Litany with other CCVs!
I pray for Higher Things daily and for all of our youth. I go home confused when there is only church once a week on Sunday and not more services to attend! I break out into biblical discussion with anyone I run into, quoting the in-depth, breakaway, and plenary speakers I heard. I miss Compline so much, in fact, that a few fellow CCVs and I have even begun praying it over Skype with each other at night!
Higher Things is a constant reminder to me that all of the earthly troubles and worries I have will end and I will receive the gift of eternal life. Although it hurts every year to say “good-bye” because I don’t know when and if I will see everyone again in this earthly life, I know I commune with all my brothers and sisters in Christ and all the company of heaven every Sunday, and we will live in eternal joy and salvation through Christ Jesus, our Lord.
The gifts Christ freely gives, He gives to you and me, to be His own, His bride, His chosen, saved and free! Saints blest with these rich gifts are children who proclaim that they were won by Christ, and cling to His strong name.” (LSB 602)
Heidi Gaub served as a CCV at Given 2010 in Logan, UT.