Friday at NOAC

Quotes of the day:

“I am not anti ice cream, I am not anti potluck…but recently, it seems to me that having something like that once in a while is enough. What about letting ourselves feel the real pangs of hunger? … What about feeding the hungry and loosing the chains of injustice, what about sharing our bread with the hungry?” –Kurt Borgmann, pastor of Manchester Church of the Brethren in North Manchester, Ind., preaching at the closing worship service of NOAC 2013

“What are you eager to do? That’s the question. In the name of God, what are you eager to do? …You have to be eager and encouraging because youth need mentors, and churches need prophets, and the world needs you. You don’t need refreshment, you are the refreshment.” –Kurt Borgmann, issuing a challenge to NOAC participants as they prepared to leave beautiful Lake Junaluska and journey back home

“It has been a blessing to be together this week, to celebrate this Sabbath period…and soon to return to our ordinary lives hallowed and consecrated and refreshed in hope…each of us fountainheads where healing springs forth.” —Jonathan Shively, executive director of Congregational Life Ministries, summing up the conference

 

Closing message calls NOACers to ‘be the refreshment’ of the world, not just seek their own refreshment in the church

Although he drew quite a few laughs by imagining the answers the question “When two or three Brethren gather together what do you think they do?” on the game show Family Feud–singing hymns, serving others, and the number one answer (ding, ding, ding) eating ice cream!)–Kurt Borgmann wasn’t content to let NOAC conclude simply by celebrating the sharing of good things.

Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
Kurt Borgmann preaches for the closing service at NOAC 2013.

Borgmann, who pastors Manchester Church of the Brethren in North Manchester, Ind., unpacked his text (Isaiah 58:1-14) and his sermon title (“I Thought There Would Be Refreshments”) and turned things upside down. Noting that many Christians think that “the primary purpose of the church is to provide refreshments primarily for ourselves,” he reminded NOAC worshippers on the last morning of the conference that Brethren can do better and often do better than that.

Many modern Christians look to church for what they get out of it. “Has waiting for our refreshment become our pattern?” Borgmann wondered. “Maybe church should look less like an ice cream social and more like a sandwich for the homeless.” Citing Isaiah’s call to faithfulness and discipleship he said, “You want refreshment? Stop waiting in line with your bowl and pick up a ladle to serve!”

Asking, “In the name of God, what are you eager to do?” he told a story about the Manchester youth group who came back from a Christian Citizenship Seminar in New York and Washington, D.C., determined to cut down on their church’s carbon footprint. First they unplugged the rarely used refrigerator in the youth classroom. Then they suggested that the church plant prairie grass in an area of lawn around the church building.

Seniors in the church supported the youth, first of all with good questions to help them think through the project, feedback, and financial support. The older adults did not obstruct the initiative of the youth, but “were curious, positive, affirming, instead of obstructionist.”

Borgmann challenged the NOAC attendees, who were packed and ready to depart at the end of the worship service, “You don’t have to go home from here and do everything…. You don’t need refreshment. You are refreshment. Trust the spirit and tell the story.”

Finally he asked, “What refreshment are you prepared to offer the world? Do you want renewal? Then what are you waiting for?”

–Frank Ramirez is pastor of Everett (Pa.) Church of the Brethren and a volunteer on the NOAC communication team.

 

Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
Jonathan Shively sums up the experiences of NOAC 2013.

NOAC by the Numbers

Registration:
About 800 people

Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
Kim Ebersole, NOAC coordinator

Church World Service kits collected for disaster relief:
444 School Kits
217 Hygiene Kits

Offerings on Monday and Wednesday (total including Friday’s offering yet to be announced):
$11,071

Trekkin’ for Peace, a walk/run around Lake Junaluska to benefit the Youth Peace Travel Team:
93 walkers and runners
$1,110 raised

NOAC Communication Team: Frank Ramirez, reporter; Eddie Edmonds, tech guru and photographer; Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, editor and photographer.