During morning worship at Rendez-vous 2011 on Saturday, Koerner Hall in Toronto was filled with the rEvolve song I Heard God’s Voice in Your Voice. One youth danced on stage, with leaps of faith and gentle turns. It was so beautiful that I heard God’s voice and felt the presence of the Spirit through her grace-filled movement.
All day at the national gathering of United Church young people and their leaders, we were listening for voices. Voices that call us to follow our dreams. Voices that call us into deeper relationship with the Divine. Voices that call us to seek justice and social change.
Keynote speaker Trey Anthony’s journey was not an easy one. Growing up with a single mother, she strove to follow her dream of acting. Being a black woman, she didn’t see herself in the media, and yet, when she didn’t win auditions, Anthony kept making connections and sharing her voice.
She opened Da Kink in My Hair with an all-black cast at the Toronto Fringe Festival in 2001. She was told that 10 people might see the show. Instead, it surpassed box office records, and 150,000 have gone on to watch it. Anthony hoped that every youth in the room would “dream bigger than anyone would dream for you.” Afterwards, I spoke with a youth who said, “She made me realize that I have to stop doubting myself.” I saw God in that moment, building a new voice for change.
Worship leader Rodger Nishioka encouraged us to dream big for ourselves, for our church, for our world. “You have power,” he said. “You have a voice.” We watched a virtual choir video where the voice of a single 15-year-old became a glorious choir with 2,000 voices from 48 countries. People uniting in one voice holds great power. Nishioka encouraged us to use our voices, speak our ideas and create a shift the church is waiting for.
I ended the day reflecting on how Jesus Christ’s voice and vision changed the world. As we prepare to leave this place, we must carry our dreams and voices forward.
Saturday’s events readied me for closing worship, where we’ll celebrate God’s dreams for us. We are all going big and going home!
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