Excitement was in the air Sunday night at the start of the second Mass Event. After a dynamite Event the night before, filled with the highest praises to God, youth knew what to expect and the Mass Event floor was on fire.
The house praise band started everyone out with some upbeat praise songs. Purple-shirted “pep” leaders jumped and danced to the beat, raising their arms high as they led the crowd in clapping. After the singing of the opening signal, “This Is the Noise We Make,” the crowds were greeted by the President of the LCMS, Gerald Kieschnick.
“The most important focus of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod is your relationship with the God of this universe,” Kieschnick said.
He told the crowd about Resolution 2-05, which passed with overwhelming support at the 63rd Regular LCMS Convention in Houston, Texas, July 14-19. The resolution was “to support the National Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod Youth Gathering.” The crowd went wild upon hearing the news.
Emcees Leon, Gustavo, and Erin took the floor and introduced the focus question for the night: “What is hope?”
A skit illustrating the twelve disciples’ confusion and lost hope when Christ was crucified was performed. All of the lights faded until the only thing that was illuminated was the grave. The feeling of hopelessness was very real.
Youth speaker, Ashley Loving, shared with the crowd her story of lost hope and how she found new hope. Loving told about how a few years ago, she was a pessimistic teenager, struggling with feelings of hatred toward herself. It was not until she visited her aunt one summer and attended a Christian camp in Illinois that she realized Christ was her reason for living. From that point on, Reeb’s life was filled with rich blessings for which she could only credit God.
A second youth speaker, Kristen Reeb, spoke about her sister, Holly, who died in a jet ski accident. Reeb’s love for her sister was deep, but she said that even with her sister gone, her hope was not.
In between the two youth speakers, the masses were wowed by Sand Painter Mark Demel. Demel utilized his artistic talent to create image after image on a light board covered in sand, such as Christ on the cross and a youth praising God.
The main speaker for the night, Rev. Byron Williams of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Dallas, Texas, was the pastor at a church in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hit. As Williams sat at home watching the devastation from his television set, he said his hope was failing. But Williams “got up” from his devastations, and told how everyone could “get up” from their trials, their sins and everything else that bound them because, “We have a direct line to our God, the living hope.”
“Because [Jesus] got up, we shall get up also,” he said.
The tomb that was illuminated earlier in the night was emanating light by the end of his speech.
An overwhelmingly powerful Orlando area gospel choir led the crowd in a rousing spiritual of “I Know that My Redeemer Lives,” to conclude the event and youth were dancing their way out of the Mass Event area, long after the song ended.