Gathering. This is a widely known if seldom remarked fact. My council president (and a dad in our congregation) and I are already up at 5 a.m., and we went to bed at 1 a.m. We have the breakfast bar open and ready for the group. I went the extra hipster step and ground home-roasted coffee beans for our "old school" percolator coffee.
2. The Gathering is about being-in-a-city. Bringing 38,000 people to a city draws attention to the city-ness of a city. New Orleans is particularly good at being a city of character.
3. The communal and collective imagination of high schoolers walking the streets is silly, pleasant, and altogether bodacious. What other group of human beings thinks its completely appropriate and possible to high-five all 38,000 of your fellow conference attendees?
3. Unicorns: Nadia Bolz-Weber in her sermon last night compared social justice Lutherans to, among other things, unicorns. Something she had always fantasized about but until she met her (now) husband, never thought existed. I like this. Lutherans are unicorns.
4. Gumbo: The first message was: "You are welcome here!" The group loved this as an updated melting pot metaphor infused with the culinary commitments of The Big Easy.
5. It looks like this: http://www.elca.org/ELCA/Youth-Gathering/Multimedia/Images.aspx
6. Colors: It's like every single group buys a uniform colored t-shirt. If you go to the nose bleeds in the Superdome and look down, the whole floor is a pastiche of these colored t-shirt groups. And what do you call a group of youth at a gathering, anyway? As southerners, we are suggesting that a group of Lutheran youth in uniform is a "mess."
7. That's just a lot of Lutherans!
8. Don't miss doing the Final 15. Make it the final 45 if you can. It takes time to process days likes these, and pray over them.