looking back and looking forward…

This weekend will be my 7th Youth Assembly (I can’t quite believe this is true, I must be extremely elderly… I was going to try and find a photo from my first NYA but it seems to be so long ago that I don’t even have photos on bebo!). I thought I’d just put up some thoughts about the event, not presuming to have any wisdom to impart, just to share a bit about what it means to me and what it might mean to you, too, whether this is your 1st or 10th Assembly. Do comment and tell us your chat!

I remember my 1st Youth Assembly very vividly. I was 16 and terrified- despite (or perhaps partly because of…) my dad being there too. It was 2004, and NYA was celebrating its 10th Anniversary- one of the speeches at dinner told the charming (and I hope untrue) story of the 6 year old me presenting flowers to the GA moderator with my skirt tucked into my pants.

The presence of parents and embarrassing stories aside, that weekend changed my life forever. Although it took me a while to grasp what was going on, I always felt supported, and then, as now, there were always people available to chat, answer questions, and explain things. Friendships began then that are now some of the most important in my life, and every September since I’ve come away with more phone numbers and facebook friends and amazing memories. I’ve also discovered what some would call an unhealthy love for all things General Assembly, been away to Sweden and Israel, been to Children’s Assembly, been on the staff team for NYA a few times, played in the NYA wind band (!!) and been challenged to reflect upon my role in the church. So don’t be afraid to take risks, ask questions and speak your mind- this is, in my experience, one of the best places to do those things- it’s a very challenging, yet incredibly safe space. In 2008, I wrote this about Youth Assembly:

“I was seen this weekend. I was seen and heard and loved and held. I met God in the hustle and bustle, in the debates, in the people who held me while I cried, who laughed with me, who laughed AT me. In the people with whom I sat up all night, napped, argued, planned, ate, sang, prayed, danced, geek-chatted and pondered. In the broken, imperfect lives which were brought together this weekend I had a glimpse of the Kingdom.”

What I will say, is that no NYA has ever been what I expected it to be. So, whether this is your first or tenth time, come with an open mind. I know that some of you will be nervous, and others so excited you feel like you might burst. Maybe others of you are just coming because a friend has dragged you along. I hope that all of you will feel welcomed, accepted and included this weekend, and will take the chance to discover new things about yourself, your church, and your God. I know that you’ll be surprised at what you find- whether it’s something tiny or something huge. And I know that you will have an absolute ball. I can’t wait to share it with you!!


~ by nicolateapot on September 2, 2010.

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