This is the last installment in a series on Creating special moments and the second example of a special moment we created. When making a planning of our monthly youth services a couple of years ago, I noticed that one of them was on the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur. I immediately felt we should do something with this, as Jewish Biblical feasts can teach us so much.
Our pastor was scheduled to give the message that service and he was enthusiastic about doing something around Yom Kippur. He came up with the idea to preach on the book of Jonah, as is custom in Jewish celebrations of Yom Kippur. We decided we wanted to focus on repentance and forgiveness of sin.
We asked our worship leader to pick songs that would go with our theme and the worship was beautiful, with mostly ‘quiet’ worship songs. Because of that, there was already and introspective and peaceful atmosphere after the worship.
In his message, the pastor beautifully linked Jonah’s voyage to our spiritual voyage and compared Jonah’s conversion to a decision we can and should make to do God’s will, again or for the first time. He also talked briefly about Yom Kippur and the meaning of that day, about true repentance, a merciful God, forgiveness of sins and being cleansed from all impurity.
After the sermon, we invited the students (16-23 year old) to come to a big wash basin we had constructed. It was simply a big watercask we had decorated with gold and silver foil to make it look a bit like the bronze laver from the Tabernacle.
We asked them to wash their hands in the basin as a symbol of renewed dedication to God and cleansing from their sin. We stressed that no one was forced to come, that it was a free choice. A long line of kids lined up to wash their hands and have them dried off by youth leaders, who ensured them that if they truly repented, God had forgiven their sins.
It was an emotional moment and a turning point for several of our teens, who referred to that moment later as the moment they really made a decision for Jesus. The ‘funny’ thing was, we hadn’t even envisioned it that big. We had just wanted to do something practical to help our kids take a stand. As it turned out, God blessed that idea wonderfully.
I think what made it work, was that we prepared the service well with the special moment in mind and it was all linked together around Yom Kippur. The worship, the message, the special moment we created, it all came together. Communication also added to the ‘success, as the worship leader, the pastor and the youth leaders knew what to do made it go smoothly. With youth, it’s always good to make your special moment simple and practical, as we did here. They knew what to do (wash their hands), they knew what it symbolized (repentance, renewed decision for God, forgiveness of sin) and they knew it was their own choice.
But as always, we can make plans al we want, but in the end all glory goes to the Lord who blessed this idea beyond our expectations.