Sometimes you just can’t make this stuff up.
When “coincidences” like this happen, my eyes widen a bit, and then I catch my breath and realize that the Holy Spirit is at work.
Let me start at the beginning:
So 3 years ago, the Extravaganza team leaders were together for their regular March meeting to begin the work of laying out the next year’s Extravaganza. We were meeting in Jacksonville, where the 2019 event would be held.
We added a day to our planning meeting, with the goal of creating a narrative, a journey, for the next 3 years of the Extravaganza. We wanted to lay out our themes for those three years, knowing that we could be more effective if things tied together, and that by picking the themes for 3 years, instead of one-at-a-time, we could save time (and money) in the planning process later.
We spent an entire day in good conversation, in prayer and in discernment, looking at what we were hearing as we’d listened to the church and to those in faith formation.
And we set themes for the next three years:
- In 2019, our theme would be “Disrupt”
- In 2020, our theme would be “Practice Not Perfect”
- And in 2021, our theme would be “Boundless”
Let me just point out again, that the conversation where we discerned these themes took place in March of 2018.
Fast forward a couple of years.
The ELCA Youth Gathering released the theme for the 2021 ELCA Youth Gathering: “Boundless.”
Wow, I thought to myself! That’s cool! We’re sharing a theme. Maybe they heard about what we were up to and liked it?
In a subsequent conversation with Molly Beck Dean, the Director of the ELCA Youth Gathering, I said, “I’m just curious, Molly: was the theme for the 2021 Gathering intentionally tied to the theme for the 2021 Extravaganza?”
No. It was a totally independent conversation. As a matter of fact, at the time the Gathering team that was working on their theme was meeting, they were unaware that the Extravaganza theme was “Boundless.”
At that point, I just about fell out of my chair. Of all of the possible themes, directions and ways we could focus, both the Extravaganza and the Gathering teams independently rallied around the word “Boundless.”
A former colleague of mine used to say “There’s no such thing as coincidences.” While I don’t know if I totally believe that, here’s what I do believe. The Holy Spirit is up to something in 2021. There is an idea, piece of wisdom, or an understanding of God’s amazing, bountiful, complete and limitless love that God really wants us to understand.
So I don’t know for sure what God is going to teach us next year, but I do believe that whatever it is, it’s going to be important.
The Holy Spirit is clearly at work.