I run this unmanageably large youth event each year that continues to grow more sizable, encompassing students from all different walks of life, communities and contexts.
The event is an all nighter, running 12 hours, from 8pm-8am Friday into Saturday morning. We pack the kids into Buses, head off to Cosmic Bowling, then have a massive lock in at the church, filled with caffeine, video games, billiards and various other eclectic elements.
For the 8th year in a row everybody from our youth ministry comes out for it and they bring a friend. Kids mark the date on their calendars 6 months in advance, parents plan vacations and birthday parties around it. The excitement is electrifying and inspiring.
237 is the highest total that we’ve ever had at any single church event. Breaking records, making connections, seeking to do good in the lives of students and our community.
All night, among the mass of humanity (and distinct smell of what we call “Teen Spirit” I couldn’t shake a feeling of incompletion.
There was a void.
Despite the 237 I was haunted by the few who were not there. Faces missing from among the numbers.
I just kept replaying all the names of the kids who should have been there in my head, wondering why they weren’t present. Some of the explanations could have ranged from normative teenage apathy to the downright nefarious.
I am well aware of my psychosis and insatiable nature; yet I still wonder; is this how Jesus feels?
Being a shepherd, having 99 sheep yet obsessing over that one lost one; the one whose absence could be attributed to apostasy.
I know how a shepherd feels, sitting among the safe masses, yet wondering about that lost lamb out there isolated, alone and tired.
There are ravenous wolves outside, salivating at the mere thought of tender lamb-flesh.