Enjoying the games
I can't remember exactly when that moment of concern and trepidation turned into ecstatic joy and engagement but it probably was when the first drop of raspberry syrup landed on his face. The halls had been decorated and the ultra violet lights lit. The speaker had arrived, the band was all but set and we, dear youth leaders, were dressed in an assortment of colourful luminous out fits. This was GLO and the introductory games had begun!
Our theme GLO (God's Light Overcomes) for the evening was based on John 1:5 "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." This was the very first CDYC rural deanery event hosted by Clogher rural deanery and in particular by the young people and leaders of the SNATCH and CONNECT youth groups. What was happening was the culmination of much planning, prayer and preparation by these groups as they hosted the event in the St. John's parish halls, Fivemiletown in the growing darkness with rustling leaves on the second last Saturday in October.
But to get back to the raspberry syrup! As the young people, over ninety of them, arrived they were invited to participate in a variety of fun games. I was watching the one where you stood on a chair, dipped a marshmallow into raspberry syrup and tried to then drop it into your partners open mouth as they lay below you on the floor! The hall was filled by the sound of young people who having entered somewhat gingerly, were now laughing and screeching as they watched and participated in the games. Young people painting faces with glow paint, sliding across the floor head first in sleeping bags, thrusting their heads into flour in search of sweets and generally having an awful lot of fun!
The evening had started extremely well and as we all cleaned up, adjusted our outfits and laughed a bit more at each other we moved across the hall to enter an Aladdin's Cave of ultra Violet and light decoration. The Rev. Gary McMurray welcomed the young people and the evening continued with worship and the very able Mark Ferguson band who lead us through a number of well know and new praise songs. Our young people responded warmly to this lead and there was a suitable atmosphere of worship and calm as our speaker, Rev James Boyd took the floor to deliver his address. James spoke of his own experience of faith as a young person and how trusting in Christ and being bold enough to be a witness to His grace in our lives is so very important. He drew together the aspects of the event very well as he reflected on how we had been witnessing all evening the impact of glowing light on the darkness around it. His message was that we allow Christ to set us alight and to give us the power to shine for Him. Significantly James underlined how when we allow the darkness of hurts, sin and broken relationships to enter our lives we experience the loss of the brightness God has planned for us. He concluded by asking the young people to cast off darkness and to walk in Christ's light, It was humbling to see their positive response to this challenge.
Later over supper we ate our chips, sipped our refreshments and reflected on what had been a highly worthwhile event. It was rewarding to see the glow on the faces of our young people as they said their farewells, giggled and laughed at each others faces and outfits one last time and dashed into the darkness to climb into cars and buses heading back to their worlds. Going back to their reality but with a newfound enthusiasm to live as shining witnesses for Christ, knowing that whatever they faced in the days ahead He had promised to give them the power to glow for Him. All they had to do was ask!
Sad as it was to see all the brightness and colour removed from the halls at the end of the evening. We as leaders were heartened in our cleaning and tidying labours with the thought that we all would be together again at the next CDYC rural deanery event in St Patrick's Monaghan when Clones and Monaghan deaneries were hosting the next event, "Amaze". There is such reward in working with young people as they bring joy, energy and enthusiasm to our life of faith together. Many grateful thanks are due to the unnamed youth leaders of the Clogher rural deanery who gave so much time energy and effort to enthuse our diocesan young people. We, like them, can all 'glow' with Christ's light!
Clogher Diocesan Youth Council Event