Young ‘shepherds’ encouraged to be attentive to God
by Scott O’Neill | Presbyterian News Service
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – A raucous, festive atmosphere punctuated the opening worship Tuesday night in Purdue University’s Elliot Hall of Music. Videos, chest-thumping music, energizers, and skits performed by Triennium staff helped work the estimated crowd of 5,000 students and adult volunteers into a multi-media frenzy that rivaled a rock concert in atmosphere and decibels, complete with the obligatory beach ball batted throughout the hall until the Call to Worship commenced.
Dr. Rodger Nishioka, in his twenty-minute sermon, contrasted the gospels of Matthew and Luke on the story of Jesus’ birth, focusing on Luke. “There are only two stories about Jesus’ birth in all of scripture, and only Luke has shepherds living in the field…the angel of the Lord stands before them, and the glory of the Lord shines around them and they are terrified. The angels say, be not afraid, for I bring you good news of great joy for all the people.”
God’s intention from the start in announcing the birth of Jesus, noted Nishioka, was that the ‘good news of great joy for all people’ was not just intended for the Jewish people…or Americans, Republicans, Democrats, or even just Presbyterians, but for all people.
Capitalizing on the overall conference theme of GO and the first day’s sub theme of “Let us GO and see,” Nishioka told the crowd, “What I love about the shepherds is that when the angels leave they don’t sit back and do nothing, the shepherds turn to one another and say let us go now to Bethlehem and see the thing that has taken place that the Lord has made known to us. The shepherds saw something amazing and acted as a result of it.”
Nishioka, currently director of Adult Education Ministries with Village Presbyterian Church, Prairie Village, Kansas, and a former teacher at Columbia Theological Seminary in Atlanta, closed his sermon imploring the students to be receptive to God’s plan.
“For whatever reason, you are called to be here. That is not your doing; it is the doing of the Holy Spirit and the grace of Jesus Christ. You’re here because God has called you here and has a plan to reveal God’s self to you in some way. If God can reveal God’s self to a bunch of stinky shepherds who live in the field how dare you sit there and think to yourself: God could not possibly reveal God’s self to me because I’m only a young person with no sense of power. Your job is to pay attention and when you see something, you say something. The shepherds go and seek, I hope you are ready, friends let’s go and see.”
Purdue President and former Indiana Governor, Mitch Daniels, greeted the students. Daniels, who has been at Purdue for more than three years is a member at Tabernacle Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis, told the group that Purdue is a campus that embraces faith, and it was an “absolutely awesome site” to see the auditorium packed with young people living their faith together. He told them that faith would go with them and sustain them moving forward in life.
Presbyterian Youth Triennium continues through Saturday, July 23. Presbyterian News Service will continue to post stories from the event and live event information can be found on Twitter via this link: https://twitter.com/search?q=%23pyt2016
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