by Mary Button, USA
Every morning here at the youth pre-assembly starts with morning worship and every ends with evening worship. These services are led by young people from a different region of the LWF. The most exciting part of worship is having the opportunity to sing songs in all the different languages spoken by the young people here. During this morning’s worship we sang in Portuguese and Spanish and at this evening’s service we sang in Polish, Slovak, Portuguese, Czech, Latin, German, and English. After morning worship we go into our Bible study groups. After evening worship we drink refreshing mocktails prepared for us by the local Saxon youth. Our bible studies in the morning are as perfect a way to start the day as ending the day sipping pistachio milkshakes in the courtyard.
Sitting together in the mornings we read scripture and connect the passages to our theme “Give us today our daily bread.” Monday we read how God provided the Israelites with manna in the desert. On Tuesday we read the parable of the mustard seed and today we read the parable of the rich fool. On Monday Bishop Kameeta added to our understanding of our Bible study when he asked, “What was so special about the manna God delivered to the Israelites? They could take it and keep moving.” In this way, Bishop Kameeta urged us to persevere, to keep faith, and to always keep moving. By starting the day connecting scripture to our theme, we ground ourselves in scripture. This morning my group’s discussion on the parable of the rich fool stayed with me as I went into my workshop session: “Doing theology contextually.” One of the questions we asked during our Bible study was: “Which characteristics of the ‘rich fool’ can we find in our society and our community today?” Of all of the questions we asked today this particular question took up most of our time. All of us were able to name people in our contexts that we identified as rich fools. In this time of financial crisis, we spent a good deal of time discussing the unequal balance of power at work in this global crisis. We were able to discuss at length something that Martin Junge, the incoming General Secretary of the LWF, shared during the conversation we were able to have with him last night: while the banks were given an $820 billion bailout, it would only take $25 billion to secure access to HIV medications to all Africans living with HIV.
Obviously, this stayed with us and is one of the many facts that we are sharing with each other and gathering up to bring with us to Stuttgart. I was thinking about our morning Bible study conversation this morning when, over coffee, in our theology workshop Martin, from France, talked about French president Nicolas Sarkozy. Martin shared with us that Sarkozy was a student radical in the 1960s, yet today could hardly be described as a radical. Martin reminded of us something else that Martin Junge told us, “you are not only the future of the LWF, but the present.” Martin assured all of that we will continue to be the face of the LWF and that soon we will be the ones in positions of power within our communion. The imperative he said was “to not betray our dreams when we get in the right place.” As soon as the words left his mouth I jotted them down in my journal, so that I can take them with me to Stuttgart, back home to Atlanta, and wherever else my travels with the LWF take me.