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Ministry: RezYouth

Thanksgiving and Kingdom-Bringing: Hosting the Chin Burmese Youth Conference

November 27, 2017

This past weekend, Resurrection had the opportunity to host a conference of Chin Burmese youth in our facility. The theme of their conference was "Your Kingdom Come", and it certainly felt like the Kingdom as the youth and Resurrection volunteers worshiped, prayed, danced, and sang together. Youth Pastor Will Chester reflects on the experience below:

Several weeks ago, Dan and I were approached by Mark Poulterer and Damon Schroeder about hosting this conference for two local Chin Burmese congregations. Mark and Damon's connection to the Chin community was through one of Mark's students at West Chicago, who also plays soccer with some of our RezYouth and has come to a few RezYouth events. In the past, they've used Glen Ellyn Bible's space, but they were hoping for possibly 300-400 attendees and needed something larger. 
Though the conference didn't achieve those numbers, they still had an amazing time of worship, prayer, and teaching from Thursday through Saturday night. Their speaker is well-known in their community and flew in from his home in Frankfurt, Germany! Several of our RezYouth joined on Friday evening and were struck by how they were able to connect with the Lord in song, even though the only words they could only pick up on a few words like Jesus and Hosanna
A contingency of being able to host the conference was that we needed staff or volunteers present the entire time—quite a feat on Thanksgiving weekend! But the Lord provided, and one volunteer said that this was just the kind of opportunity she was praying for since she was not with family over the holiday. 
When I spoke to Mark's student who had a leadership role in the event, he was deeply moved. He, and most of the other attendees, are only two or three years removed from their homes in Burma or Malaysia where they lived with temporary refugee status. "I just never imagined that we'd be able to host this event in such a big church that is as nice as this one. Thank you so much. Thank you." 
Dan and I wanted to share because this wonderful testimony of God's kindness in giving us this building and the opportunity to share that blessing with our brothers and sisters—especially those like the Chin Burmese who have suffered for the gospel. 

Burmese Youth Conference from Church of the Resurrection on Vimeo.

How to Pray Together on Thanksgiving

November 21, 2017

Growing up in my family, we would spend each Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve at my Grammy's house with all of my uncles, aunts, and cousins on my mom's side. On Christmas Eve, we all crammed in 3 or 4 pews at the local Baptist church for the candlelight service, but on Thanksgiving, we struggled to develop any sort of spiritual traditions. There was the traditional watching of the Lions football game (which we watched on mute during the meal), and then taking a break until the start of the Cowboys game (I didn't even really know there was a big parade until much later) to dig into all the pies.

A couple of times my older cousins wrote out verses about being thankful on cards at each place and we read them before eating, but for whatever reason that never caught on.

So, a few years ago when my Mom was hosting Thanksgiving dinner for the first time, Bonnie and I began to put together the liturgy below as a way to pray together as a family and give thanks on Thanksgiving. Here are a few things we learned:

1. Don't let the food get cold

The first year we waited until the food was all ready and on the table to pray and it was a disaster. The kids got antsy and kept grabbing food. The adults kept grabbing the food. Then the food we'd been preparing all day got cold. We couldn't really enter into the prayer because we just wanted to get to the feast.

The next year we took a break about an hour before we ate in a different room where the kids could hang out on the floor and we could pray without feeling rushed. The 10-15 minute service we developed (based on the Book of Common Prayer's noonday service with the additional of a few other prayers specifically for Thanksgiving) can be shortened or lengthened to fit the number of kids and level of chaos of any given year.

2. Involve everyone

Praying through a liturgy like the one below let's everyone participate in a way that doesn't put anyone on the spot. Everyone can read things in unison. Different people can take turns reading prayers or Scriptures. If your family is comfortable praying spontaneously, you can do that. But if you're not, or if you need help getting started, the liturgy can help lead you into it.

3. Give thanks for specific provisions from the past year

For a few years, there was a new baby at each Thanksgiving somewhere in our family. So we added a collect giving thanks for this new life that came to us that year. We've celebrated graduations and new jobs. We've celebrated new in-laws as siblings have gotten married. We've celebrated health situations where there's been healing.

This year we'll celebrate Thanksgiving in a new house that the Lord provided for us. Sometimes we remember those who have passed away, or who are not with us for others reasons. Or we remember real challenges and griefs that we are going through. In the midst of these, we can still believe in God's faithfulness, pray for one another, and wait on the Lord to provide.

Giving thanks for these specific provisions of the Lord and asking for his provision in areas of need helps us remember his goodness year after year. It reminds us to tell the stories of God's activity in our lives. "Wasn't it last year that God..." "Remember last year when we needed...and now look what God has done!"

4. Remember those who don't have, and do something to serve them

As we give thanks for what God has done in our lives, we remember God's love for all people—especially the poor and lonely. Pray for them, and then do something to serve them. A lot of families do something to serve during the holidays, but what would it look like to live a year around lifestyle of generosity for others because of God's generosity toward us?

Yes, we celebrate from a heart thanksgiving through abundance and enjoying good things. But we also sacrifice from a heart of thanksgiving—knowing that when we give ourselves, our money, and our things to others, that it is the Lord that provides what we need.

Looking for a new Thanksgiving tradition? Join us for our Thanksgiving Eucharist Service at 10am in the All Saints Prayer Chapel!

Download the liturgy for Thanksgiving Noonday Prayer