2010 National Youth Conference of the Church of the Brethren
Fort Collins, Colo. — July 17-22, 2010
Thursday morning preacher Shawn Flory Replogle meditated on what the Church of the Brethren has to offer, that is deeply desired by the world of the 21st century–and on how joy emerges from struggle and suffering. Replogle recently completed his term of service as the 2010 moderator of the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference. Photo by Glenn Riegel
“It has taken the Church of the Brethren 300 years,” Shawn Flory Replogle said, “but we’re in vogue.” Preaching for the closing worship of the 2010 National Youth Conference, he reviewed both his impressions of the state of the church as he served as the 2010 Annual Conference moderator, and addressed the day’s theme, “Manifesting Joy.”
Beginning with reflections on how the values and witness of the Church of the Brethren are uniquely suited to the 21st century, Replogle moved into reflections about how joy comes out of, or is closely related to, times of struggle and suffering.
On the occasion of coordinating a workcamp in Mexico, for example, he was asked by a young adult who was digging six foot trench for a latrine why Replogle wasn’t down there at the bottom of the pit alongside him. Replogle’s reply: that the young man had paid good money to go on the trip and it was the coordinator’s job to see to it that he got his money’s worth.
Whether it is the new world that Noah discovered after the Flood, the resurrection that followed the Crucifixion, or the new heaven and new earth that come at the end of the book of Revelation, Replogle insisted that “in the Bible joy…rarely comes without significant suffering.”
But joy does follow. This is what Jesus meant when he told his disciples that their sadness at his coming absence would be only the prelude to a great joy.
Joy is not, as advertisers seek to convince us, something that is easily achieved with the purchase of a product, Replogle told the youth. “We know better,” he insisted, saying that before he would wear product logos on his clothes the corporations “better be paying me to advertise their company.” He invited worshipers to join him in a pledge to reject the false world view of consumerism.
The Brethren ideal of radical discipleship is precisely what the world needs now, he told them. He encouraged youth to keep their eyes open for their “Wooooo” moment. “It will be preceded by struggle,” he assured them, but the result as they take their faithfulness out into the world will be–in the words of Eugene Peterson’s Message translation–“A joy no one can rob from you.”
— Frank Ramirez is pastor of Everett (Pa.) Church of the Brethren
The News Team for the 2010 National Youth Conference (NYC) includes photographers Glenn Riegel and Keith Hollenberg, writers Frank Ramirez and Frances Townsend, “NYC Tribune” guru Eddie Edmonds, Facebooker and Twitterer Wendy McFadden, website staff Amy Heckert, and news director and editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org .
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