Lounged against a wooden wall before chapel started, I thought deep and hard about my sins – the ones I knew, the ones I didn’t know. And while doing so, I surveyed the crucifix drooped from the ceiling as if it were an unexpected corpse sighting. The body was bruised and stripped of clothes. The nails dripped of innocent blood. There hung the man on it: defeated and dead.
This image – the image of Jesus Christ nailed to a cross – is the cornerstone for every Higher Things conference. Here, we learn, teach and confess Christ and Him crucified for sinners.
This past week was… wait for it, wait for it… no different.
To briefly recap, let’s cover when Pastor Riley taught us that Jesus went through even hell for us: “You’re not an alcoholic, a drug addict, a slut, a queer. You’re not anything but a baptized child of Christ. And, yeah, the Old Adam likes to say, ‘I got a lot of problems! How can I be saved?’ But Jesus likes to say, ‘You think you got problems? I died for you. I went to hell for you. Now, that was a problem. But alas, your sins are forgiven. You are mine.’
Confirmation is important, and Vicar Kyle Brown’s breakaway class reminded us of just that. We learned about our identity in Christ, “Name changes in the Bible are very significant. To help you understand, just look at us. When we received Jesus, our own names as Baptized Christians were placed upon our foreheads and upon on our hearts. We changed from who we were – lost and condemned – to who we are now: baptized, saved, forgiven.”
And in Friday’s plenary session, Pastor Mark Buetow taught us why we go to church weekly, “When your memory starts to go, the Word of God doesn’t. It sustains you. So, going to worship every Sunday might get boring as you say the same words and sing similar hymns, but it’s good to have them engraved in your head as they will be the last words you know, but the first words you hear when you open your eyes in paradise.”
Higher Things president, Pastor George Borghardt spent his time telling us that Jesus isn’t for the holy people, but for the lost sinners, “The Gospel isn’t there to alter your behavior, but it’s there to save dead and lost sinners. To bring them back to God each and every time they sin. I repeat: The Gospel is to save sinners. That’s the Gospel because that’s Jesus.”
We sang, too. Oh, did we sing! We sang hymns that pointed us to the Lord’s Supper, such as Chad Bird’s, “The Infant Priest was Holy Born:” “The body of God’s Lamb we eat, a priestly food and priestly meat; On sin-parched lips the chalice pours His quenching blood that life restores.”
I could go on and on, and I’m sure you’d listen. But, instead, check out a Higher Things conference for yourself next year. It’s a conference where high school students spend their time worshiping three times a day on the daily. Confessional, liturgical, Christ and Him Crucified plenary sessions, breakaway classes and late night discussions. It’s all about Jesus. All of the time. And the youth? Well, they devour it. That’s why they keep coming back.
Kaitlin Jandereski was a CCV for Grand Rapids, MI’s 2015 Higher Things’ conference and is a future deaconess. She currently lives in a small town called Bad Axe, Michigan.