Punks

Jarrod McKenna blesses Dunker Punks at National Youth Conference. Photo by Nevin Dulabaum

Jarrod McKenna blesses Dunker Punks at National Youth Conference.
Photo by Nevin Dulabaum

By Maddie Dulabaum

Sitting on the stadium floor next to my friend Aaron before worship on Wednesday night, I was afraid that National Youth Conference might pass me by with only a gigantic pillow to show for it. I’d always heard that NYC was a life-changing experience, but so far I hadn’t really felt changed.

Enter: Worship on Wednesday night.

I had enjoyed Jarrod McKenna’s workshop about causing Christ-like trouble the day before, so I was excited about the word he would bring that night. I was not disappointed. As he introduced the concept of the “Dunker Punk,” my fear of leaving NYC unchanged dissipated. Jarrod reminded us that only eight brave people started our Brethren Dunker Punk movement more than 300 years ago, that they began a “Mustard Seed Revolution.” Then he called for eight more brave brothers and sisters to continue this radical love, and I was changed. For the first time all week I felt an overwhelming sense of call.

When Jarrod asked for at least eight people to come and stand with him, to dedicate themselves to being Dunker Punks, I didn’t hesitate. In the mass of people flooding the stage, Aaron and I were side by side.

After the service, we sat outside the arena while people bustled around us, getting psyched for the concert that was about to follow worship. “Do you think tomorrow all these people will remember that they stood?” Aaron asked.

That question has consumed me ever since. Watching everyone laugh and scream as they made their way back into the arena for the concert, it was easy to think that maybe we wouldn’t remember. Maybe we would forget that we aligned ourselves to the renewal of our heritage of Christ-like love. Maybe we would get back home and everything would return to how it was before NYC. Maybe all of this would just be a great memory.

But that hasn’t happened. With a Facebook page, Twitter handle, and website devoted to the Dunker Punk movement, our little Mustard Seed Revolution has already spread beyond Fort Collins and NYC. With those two tiny words we claimed a name and started something with big potential. With our lives that often feel small, we came together and realized our strength. It seems incredible to think about but, then again, we Brethren have always been called from small beginnings.

Maddie Dulabaum was a youth participant and member of the news team at NYC this summer, and will begin college this fall. To read coverage from the conference, visit brethren.org/nyc . To support the Youth and Young Adult Ministries that are dedicated to creating experiences like NYC for Brethren young people, visit brethren.org/give .

(Read this issue of eBrethren)

Blessings

Photos by Kendra Johnson, Katie Cummings, and Ron Lubungo.

Photos by Kendra Johnson, Katie Cummings, and Ron Lubungo.

An excerpt from a sermon by Christy Waltersdorff, based on Matthew 5:1-12.

“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God.”

Somewhere along the way I started signing letters with the word, “Blessings.” It is a meaningful word that wishes all good things to whomever I am writing. It has the fragrance of grace—that promise of a gift undeserved.

In Matthew’s Gospel we find a list of blessings in the Sermon on the Mount. But more than that, we find a call for action, a teaching that is counter-intuitive, counter-cultural, radical, subversive—just like Jesus, himself. It is not concerned with what is practical or possible, but calls us to turn the values of the world upside down.

“You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you areno more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.”

Matthew helps us to see that we can believe these impossible things because of what we know about Jesus and the God who sent him. God blesses us and asks us to bless others.

“You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.”

One of my Sunday school teachers used to say that the best way to think of the Beatitudes is as “be-attitudes.” They are ways of being—nine blessings that speak the language of grace, proclaiming truth that is the opposite of truth as the world knows it.

“You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family” (The Message).

In his hilltop sermon Jesus addressed those who were, right then, dealing with difficult and painful realities. “Blessed are you who are poor in spirit, at this very moment, for yours is the kingdom of heaven.” Not after you die, not two hundred years from now, but right now.

That promise remains true today. God is with you no matter what happens. You are blessed right now, and you are never alone. God is a God who cares about the meek, the mourners, the peacemakers, those who suffer.

And even as they assure us, the Beatitudes call us to live as the people God created us to be, right here and right now. They encourage us to bless each other as we have been blessed by God, as an act of grace. A blessing is a prayer. It is a gift from God. Blessed are you… Amen.

Christy Waltersdorff is pastor of the York Center Church of the Brethren in Lombard, Ill., and a worship coordinator for National Youth Conference. For suggestions of ways to bless others, visit www.brethren.org/volunteer, www.brethren.org/pray , and www.brethren.org/give .

(Read this issue of eBrethren)