This was the first year I have ever attended a Higher Things conference. I had no idea what to expect but this trip was easily a highlight of the summer-probably the best part of it, as a matter of fact. It was filled with not only solid Lutheran preaching and teaching, but also a cavalcade of Star Wars movies. We decided early on in the trip that we were going to watch all 6 movies. The person most excited about this was Pastor Matt, who chipped in some colorful commentary of his own at some of the more ridiculous parts of the movies. Enough about the stars though-this trip was about a lot more “higher things.”
When we first arrived at the conference we all got assigned dorm rooms. As the boys began settling in, we quickly realized that the current sleeping arrangements wouldn’t do, so we all quickly shoved as many beds as we could fit into one room and designated it as our sleeping quarters. Once that was all arranged, we departed promptly for St. John’s Lutheran Church on campus for the opening divine service of the conference. We quickly realized we were in for a treat. Some of our favorite hymns were being sung reverently by 1,000 other people around our age. The preaching didn’t fail either: classic Law and Gospel-Christ crucified for sinners like us. We also got to receive His Body and Blood during this divine service as well as at our closing service. We were also blessed to have matins, vespers and evening prayer services each and every day.
This year’s conference theme was Te Deum, meaning, “We praise Thee, O God.” The hymn that utilizes these words is based on the account in Isaiah 6 where Isaiah is confronted with the Triune God and cannot help but say, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!” (Isaiah 6:3). The plenary sessions centered around the work of each person of the Holy Trinity. Those sessions were only part of our catechesis, however. We also had breakaway sessions every day that featured different subjects, ranging from “Jesus in a Gay World” to “Mormonism Exposed” and everything in between.
Everyday we woke up around 7:30 and went to bed around midnight, so needless to say we needed to wind down a bit when evening came around. Every night we were also allowed free time; we could use it however we wanted. HT staff provided many inflatable games to keep us busy. My personal favorite is Knocker Ball, in which you get into these giant blow-up hamster bubbles and run at each other as hard as you possibly can. I was a terror to all the freshman and junior high girls who played this game-ask anyone.
I think anyone who went on this trip will testify that it was a blast and we would all do it over again in a heartbeat if we could. We are so thankful to all our chaperones and everyone in our congregation who helped make this trip possible. It never would have happened were it not for the effort of the parents and adults of our church…so I’d like to thank you! I realize that I’m graduating high school and might not always be around Gwinner, North Dakota but if we decide to go to a Higher Things conference again next year you better believe I’m hitching a ride. Until then however we can all be content simply singing, “Te Deum laudamus.”
Joseph Greenmyer is a member at Zion Lutheran Church of Gwinner, North Dakota.