Dancing. We’re dancing like we’re on fire. In love with the moment, in love with God, in love with each other. We’re tired, we’re sweaty – most of us haven’t showered in days. And it’s like heaven on earth, us dancing there.
I’ve been going to Pitch and Praise for over a decade and I’m amazed how every year, I’m struck dumb by how beautiful a moment it can be. All of these students, some lifelong Jesus followers, others finding Him for the first time, together as one. This year we had lots of warmth and sun, other years it’s raining like it’s the end of the world and freezing cold and still, we come to be with God on that hill.
What strikes me the most is not the songs, not the speakers, not even that piping hot poutine – it’s the joy. That raw, honest, powerful joy that comes from being free. Being outside your world for one weekend so you can see it more clearly when you come home. I love seeing young people struggle to find meaning, to do the hard work of digging through their hurts and failures, the pain done to them and by them, all to realize that Jesus was with them the whole time. It breaks me open to see them worship and wonder what life could be like if they followed Jesus every single day. I’m always a bit tender when I come home because when I go there, I’m a little closer to eternity.
This year we got there through awesome storytellers and preachers Shane Claibourne (@shaneclaiborne) and Jo Saxton (@josaxton). Jon Bryant (@jonrbryant) rang the hallelujah with such an honesty in his singing, I thought I was in the holy of holies. We watched and heard stories of lives transformed by the Missionaries of Charity and local youth groups . I witnesses students who are saving for college and facing unprecedented debt give $6,300 to rebuild an orphanage in Nepal (which was matched 4x to a whopping $25,200!) I watched our group, our little holy outpost, share challenges, questions, and encouragement that shaped each other. We went there as friends and left as a family.
More than anything, I went back home thankful. Thankful for young people who continue to push me to follow Jesus with all of my soul and body, and who long for Kingdom come. I’m home, hoping that Jesus will be as real to them and me here as He was there. Jo Saxton put it perfectly on Monday morning when she said, “The good thing about God is that He isn’t confined to a tent.”
God may not live in a tent, but He sure did borrow one for the weekend.