Stay tuned for blog posts from the band, drama troupe, members of the National Planning Committee, and more!
The first few days after CLAY 2014 are often described as a “coming down from the mountaintop” for youth, home team leaders, and volunteers alike. After a full four days of activities and three nights of very little sleep, it can be difficult to get back into the routine of home life. After four days of interacting with several hundred Lutheran and Anglican youth, worshiping God and strengthening in faith, it can be difficult to not go back to the same temptations and old habits that you left behind when you started the journey to Kamloops. What do you do when you get back home from CLAY, changed in a way that you may not understand yet , and everything else has stayed the same?
It’s important to remember that CLAY Gatherings, which are often the “mountains” or spiritual high points for many people, are not the only times that you can be close to God. These events are valuable because they help us connect with other youth from across Canada, and allow us to see the world from a different perspective. We can worship in different ways that allow us to find new meaning in the liturgy and songs that we know by heart. We learn about our place in the wider church, beyond our congregations or parishes. These experiences give us a reserve of strength to fall back on when times are hard and God seems very far away.It’s in these valleys of life where your experiences at CLAY will matter the most.
September is just around the corner, and we’ll be back to our school and work routines before we know it. In the midst of your busy lives, take time every day to remember CLAY 2014. Re-read a blog post or your journal. Look up a few tweets. Put a picture from CLAY 2014 up in your room. Pray while you’re on the bus to school or driving someplace. Then go out and become “wine to a thirsty world,” as God intended for us to be.
– Hannah Shirtliff, CLAY 2014 Communications Coordinator
A recap of Scott Evans’ talks on Saturday, August 16, 2014 at CLAY 2014.
“The Upside-Down Kingdom: The First Shall Be Last”
During the morning Large Group Gathering, Scott described the various images of Jesus that are presented through churches and the media. Usually, it’s as a really, really good person – easygoing, maybe even so easygoing that He doesn’t seem to really stand for anything.
“Sometimes we talk about Jesus as though they killed him because he was just so sweet,” Scott said. When in actual fact, people sought to kill Jesus because he threatened the entire religious establishment with His subversive teachings. Scott pointed to Matthew 23 as a key passage where Jesus’ stance on the powerful teachers of the law and the Pharisees is made clear.
“For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.” Matthew 23: 12-13
Jesus was forcing people to question the idea of how a religious life was supposed to be led. Rather than remaining focused on Heaven and the rewards to come, we must remember the suffering in this world. Jesus promises to quench our thirst, but when we commit to follow Jesus we also commit to becoming springs of life for others.
“Beyond These Walls: The Word Became Flesh”
In the afternoon Large Group Gathering, Scott built on the idea that faith and action are deeply connected. God has always sought to make Himself known, and He plans to do it through you and the Church (the community of believers). You are Plan A, and there is no Plan B. From the Fall of Adam and Eve in Genesis Chapter 3 and onward, God has been trying to call His people home.
In an age where young people are leaving the church in high numbers and church organizations as we know them today are shrinking, what does this mean? Scott made a passionate speech in favour of staying with the Church.
“We don’t give up on God’s plan for the world because it doesn’t suit our needs. Does church suck? You are the church too!”
Rather than walking away when confronted with hypocritical practices, worship that doesn’t make sense or help us to connect with God, we need to spend time investing in the church and changing it from within. Walking away from the church won’t solve any of its problems, but staying will. Scott brought a quote up on the screens.
“The church is the only community that exists primarily for the benefit of its non-members.” – William Temple
Scott added: “Church does not exist for us or for our own entertainment.”
“Faith without works is like a heart without a heartbeat” and the Church becomes the place we go to, and then leave, in order to serve others.
– Hannah Shirtliff, CLAY 2014 Communications Coordinator
Note: this is a recap of Scott Evans’ speech from August 14, 2014 at CLAY 2014. All ideas are his, not mine.
That was the question that keynote speaker Scott Evans left us with at the end of the first Large Group Gathering. It was typed on a slide, along with the sentence “There is no right answer.”
So how do we define ourselves? Through our thoughts, words, actions, and projected images on social media sites, what do we say is “worth it”? Are we consistent in every situation, or do we appear to hold different values in different circumstances so that those around us can consider us “worth it” — worthy of attention, acceptance, and even love.
Throughout his talk, titled “Snakes and High Stakes — How Many ‘Likes’ Do You Have?” Scott discussed how people from the Bible attempted to become “worth it” for others, and how we do the same today.
Scott said that the question of “are we worth it?” begins in the Garden of Eden. Most of us know the story – Adam and Eve live together in harmony with God and creation, until a serpent tempts them into eating from a tree which they were forbidden to even touch. After doing so, they realize that they are naked and hide, from God and each other. Scott reminded us that in the garden of Eden, “nakedness wasn’t invented as a concept – shame was – the idea that you’re not good enough.” It was then that we discovered that we were vulnerable to the opinions of others, that our true selves were somehow “not good enough” for the world to see.
So we put masks forward, whether we’re wearing our “Sunday best” to church rather than the clothes we wear every other day, or we’re carefully manicuring our social media profiles to create the image of a perfect life. With the advent of likes, virtual friends, and followers, we now have real metrics to gauge whether or not people accept us as “worth it.” Virtual rejection hurts just as much as real-life rejection. Have you ever regretted posting about something that you were passionate about after it failed to get not even one “like” on Facebook? I know I have.
Scott used the parable of the Prodigal Son to illustrate how people attempt to control their vulnerabilities. The prodigal son, who takes his father’s money and squanders it in a way that lead him into harmful situations, is in control of his vulnerabilities. As Scott put it,
“The struggle for control is the great unspoken struggle… The ability to control our own destruction so no one else can do it for us”
Eating disorders, self-harm, substance abuse, and other harmful behaviours — we hurt ourselves so that no one else can, masking and controlling our other vulnerabilities.
The other son – the one who stayed at home, working tirelessly in the fields, is trying to mask his vulnerabilities in a different way. He’s the classic overachiever, the perfect son, the perfect worker. He’s trying, as Scott said, to “tick all the boxes” that will make him “worth it” in the eyes of his father and the society that he lives in. When he responds with anger to the news that his younger brother has laid bare his vulnerabilities, asked for help, and been welcomed back with honour, he responds with anger. Scott describes the father’s reaction:
“You already are worth it. You’re trying to earn something that you already have.”
We can mask our vulnerabilities with accomplishments, moulding ourselves into someone whom society would consider “worth it”. We can lose ourselves in harmful behaviours so that the outside world cannot hurt us nearly as badly as we hurt ourselves. Like the Woman at the Well (which Scott also discussed), we will do anything to hide our broken parts from others. As Scott put it — “Someone’s put their finger on the brokenness of my life — let’s have a theological debate!”
So with that in mind, how do we define ourselves? Do we accept our vulnerabilities or hide them? Do we let others decide what’s “worth it”? Or do we choose for ourselves, remembering that God, who knows our every thought and desire, has already accepted us as “worth it”?
– Hannah Shirtliff, CLAY 2014 Communications Coordinator
– you rode a bus for four days and slept on church basement floors every night… and you wouldn’t trade it for anything!
– the first LGG completely overwhelmed you. Worship songs with drums and bass guitars accompanying? Dancing?
– you thought about the question “What defines you?”
– you see the Woman at the Well, the Prodigal Son, and the woman caught in adultery in a whole new way
– you swore that you’d never go dance in the praise pit
– but then you did
– you had a crush on at least one band member/drama member/keynote speaker
– you learned how to tell the difference between herbs and weeds at the Servant Event
– you heard something that made you rethink everything in your life up until this point
– you thought that Lion’s Den was an improvement on Dragon’s Den and should be made into an actual TV show
– you danced the night away (until the lights came on at midnight)
– or at least awkwardly stood around for a few minutes
– a bird swooped right past your head and your life flashed before your eyes at the BC Wildlife Park
– you came home with copies of all of Scott Evans’ books
– you went by the Huron at Western booth to grab Smarties at least 3 times per day
– you made friends with another home team while standing in line for something
– praise songs are still stuck in your head
– you learned what an “Anglican” is
– you learned what a “Lutheran” is
– you learned you are God’s Plan A… and there is no Plan B!
– you grew closer to God
– you discovered (or reaffirmed) that leading a Christian life is WORTH IT!
By Hannah Shirtliff, CLAY 2014 Communications Coordinator
The CLAY 2014 NPC would like to thank Ecclesiastical Insurance for being a supporting sponsor for CLAY 2014.
From Ecclesiastical Insurance’s website:
“Ecclesiastical is a specialist provider of insurance solutions and services designed to protect and preserve Canada’s distinct communities, cultures and heritage. Working closely with the independent national broker network, we provide customized insurance solutions to faith organizations, retirement communities, education facilities, unique properties, registered charities and non-profit organizations, and select commercial enterprises.” (http://www.ecclesiastical.ca/about-us/)
Thank you for supporting CLAY 2014!
Check out this recap of the CLAY 2014 Theme Development Weekend, written by band member Zack Ingles:
Your CLAY 2014 National Planning Committee travelled to Kamloops, B.C. last weekend for the second of three meetings before the Gathering in August.
It wasn’t all work and no play!
While most of our time was spent in the St. Paul’s Cathedral parish hall, we also toured the B.C. Wildlife Park (the CLAY 2014 excursion destination) and explored the beautiful Thompson Rivers University. We’re so excited to welcome everyone to the campus in August. Peter Reinhardt, the LGG producer, already has big plans for the stage set-up in the TRU gymnasium. Sleeping quarters (located in the beautiful TRU residence building) are just minutes away from most of the activity locations. Although with two elevators for 800 people, we all may have to get up a little bit earlier to take the stairs to the main floor! Personally, I’m excited about spending some time outdoors in the fresh air for evening worship. The green space on campus is a welcome change from staying inside a convention centre all weekend!
On behalf of the entire National Planning Committee, I’d like to thank St. Paul’s Anglican Cathedral for allowing us to use their parish hall, kitchen, and chapel for our meeting. A big thank-you also goes out to Bishop Barbara Andrews for inviting the entire NPC and the local volunteer co-ordinators to dinner at her house.
How are you getting ready for CLAY 2014? Let us know at @claygathering (Twitter), Canadian Lutheran Anglican Youth Gathering (Facebook), or in the comments below!
– Hannah Shirtliff, CLAY 2014 Communication Co-Ordinator
With a little over a year to go before CLAY 2014 in Kamloops, BC, the National Planning Committee is working hard to make this the best CLAY Gathering ever! Consider this website your guide to all things CLAY-related.
Under “Basics,” you’ll find an explanation of what a CLAY is, a list of important dates and deadlines for registration, information on our location, and a guide to home teams.
Want to share CLAY music or videos with your congregation after the Gathering? They’ll be posted under “CLAY 2014: Media.” In the meantime, we’ve posted a few videos from CLAY 2012 to give you an idea of what to expect. Go check them out! Excited yet?
The “Resources” and “Registration” pages will have everything you need to register and prepare for the Gathering. Watch for updates!
If you have any questions, there’s an email form on the “Contact Us” page. The easiest way to stay up-to-date on all things CLAY-related is to like, follow, or subscribe to our various social media profiles. We’re on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Storify!
More content will be unveiled in the next few months – we can’t wait to share everything with you!
– Hannah Shirtliff