Sunday night we gathered for the first time as a group of over 5,300 at Thompson-Boling Arena for the inaugural Mainstage session. The CHIC band led us in worship and we were warmly welcomed by Efrem Smith who invited us to come together as one big youth group for the next 5 days. The rules robot, Bruce, from the year 3000 filled us in: “no jaywalking,” “no throwing garbage out the windows,” and “no crossdormination.”  The response: no problem!

Throughout the week each of our speakers on Mainstage will be challenging us with a question.  Harvey Carey engaged us immediately, prompting all to turn to their neighbor and ask, “Hey neighbor, what — or more importantly — who are you looking for?”

John chapter 20 tells of Mary Magdalene weeping outside the empty tomb of Jesus and her interaction with the risen Christ. We find her, in verse 11, desperately looking for Jesus, when he asked her, “Woman, why are you weeping?”, yet she didn’t recognize his voice in the midst of her anguish. Carey called us out: oftentimes we are looking for love, truth, what is real, God — in the wrong places. He said, “There is no way you can be joyful and have a meaningful life without God. People will always let you down and what happens when you let yourself down? We are left on the outside of the tomb, wondering what to do next, crying. Don’t begin this week without a relationship with Christ, the Son of God.”

Christ is here, in our midst, he calls us by name, as he called Mary’s name in verse  16. We are unique and our calling is to be our unique selves — with open eyes to see him and what God is doing in, through, and around us. We are to go out and share the good news, be the body of Christ: feet, hands, mouth and heart, caring for the world.

And think, this is just the first night!


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