Jubilate has been an awesome experience for me personally, as well as my faith. When the Jubilate program was first introduced to Broadway Baptist, I was very hesitant to sign up. I knew that we would be singing all weekend, and since I was not an experienced singer, that was definitely intimidating for me. I ended up giving it a try, and I am very glad I did. Jubilate quickly became one of my favorite church experiences. In the winter session, we spend the entire MLK weekend learning around 8 pieces with a choir of five churches and more than 100 youth, polishing them so that we can perform them at a couple of churches that Sunday. Then, over a week in the summer, we practice and perform the songs for various churches, groups, and people all over the South. While it is a lot of work, it is a very rewarding experience learning with a large choir of people my age, and being able to share the music and touch other’s lives. Jubilate has allowed me to meet many people, improve my musical abilities, and share God’s word through music.
Family Advent Breakfast
This past Christmas Season was a bit more magical with Zeke now old enough to realize that Santa would soon be visiting our home laden with presents. While “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” rang through the air daily during November and December, Matt and I knew that our priority was to refocus that excitement to that of Jesus Our Savior’s Birthday. This is quite a tall task considering every day in a four year old’s life is pretty much all about them (or at least our four year old!). Thankfully, Emily Holladay and the Children’s Ministry put together a Family Advent Breakfast to begin the Holy Season.
After we fellowshipped and ate breakfast provided by Gracious Plenty, we were directed to three different stations. The first was to create an advent box. Once finished, it contained an advent calendar with various symbols for each week to help celebrate. The second station was to make an angel to give to the Homebound members. The third was creating jars of hot cocoa and marshmallows to place in the food baskets that were delivered after the Christmas Musical. This was Zeke and Hank’s favorite station as they filled about 10 jars, of course all while eating a chocolate chip or two. Cathy Smith and Glenna Hess helped at this station and I loved seeing the interaction of the children with these two adults.
I was filled with gratitude for all the people that help make Broadway’s Children’s Program function. Having multiple hands to guide my three boys during these early stages matters. The children understood that both the angels and the hot chocolate were given to others that needed it more than them. This giving to others is what fulfills the Christmas Spirit and can only be understood with practice.
Weeks before Christmas, Zeke found the glow sticks that were part of the Advent box. They had been included in the box to remind us to shine the light of Christ wherever we went. Matt and I walked into a dark playroom to find the three boys adorned with the glow sticks made into bracelets. The kids were floating around singing “little gray donkey, clip-clop, clip-clop, on the way to Bethlehem.” At least for a moment, the excitement of Christ’s coming was realized and embraced.
Finding Hope in Grief
All Saint’s Sunday in November is a time when our church remembers those members and family members that have passed away during the previous year. For me, it is also within a few days of the anniversary date of my husband’s death. I had signed up to attend that afternoon a small group session on grief, led by Leslie Townsend, PhD.
I have had several years now to work through my grief, though at times it does not feel like it. I have wondered about this and knew I wanted to attend this group. Our numbers were small with all of us at various stages of our grief but the conversations and sharing were meaningful, thoughtful and inspirational.
Dr. Townsend is an excellent facilitator for small groups. She recommended readings including Kubler-Ross’ Stages of Grief, Wayne Oates’ Phases of Grief and “It Hurts So Bad Lord.” If this small group led by
Dr. Townsend is offered again, I would highly recommend it for anyone experiencing grief.
What does Disciple Now mean to me? Yes, it’s a weekend retreat away from home. Yes, it’s fun. Yes, it’s a good way to bond with other youth. Yet I come out of every weekend with a new perspective.
This year, the theme of Disciple Now centered on how our relationship with God is anchored, specifically through music. I wouldn’t consider myself musically gifted, unless you count joining the middle school band and occasionally playing the piano in my living room. However, I’ve found myself growing closer to God through song in the past couple of years. Youth choir, handbells, and Jubilate, Broadway’s annual youth choir tour, has definitely played a significant role in that. But it was Disciple Now that opened my eyes to see this connection between myself, music, and my faith.
As a senior, leaving for college soon is one of the most terrifying thoughts I’m constantly reminded of. There was one song the youth sang this year in worship at Disciple Now that made me feel at peace with growing up so quickly and leaving my home in a few months; it’s called “Oceans.” One of the verses says,
“You call me out upon the waters /
The great unknown where feet may fail /
And there I find You in the mystery /
In oceans deep /
My faith will stand.”
The first time I heard this song, specifically this verse, something happened that is difficult to express in writing. I truly felt God’s presence surrounding me, reassuring me and telling me it’s okay to feel upset about leaving behind a place I love so much. Disciple Now is a time of change and of growth, and I can say I have continued to grow in my faith year after year of attending; I will never forget what I have learned from this retreat. It is one my favorite youth activities and it is a bittersweet moment that this past Disciple Now was my last.
- Meagan Sanders