“Feel Kingdom of God surround you as you look for Him in the middle,” said István Szabó, Presiding Bishop of the RCH, who encouraged the participants of the Starpoint Reformed Youth Festival. On July 23rd, the ninth Starpoint kicked off in Debrecen with more than two thousand participants.
In 2019, Debrecen, again hosts the gathering of the Reformed young people in the Carpathian Basin. This year, the theme of the festival is unity and the community which comes from the Gospel of Luke 17: 21 “The Kingdom of God is among You.” This year’s Starpoint organizers want to show us how God’s love surrounds us, even if we do not feel or we have not recognized it yet.
Center and periphery
Presiding Bishop István Szabó reminded young people with an image of what it is like to walk in faith. He said that it is like riding a bike that can only be taught by those who already know how to ride. “I taught my children and I’m also teaching my grandchildren. I embrace them to prevent them from falling until they learn how to balance on the bike on their own,” he said. It may seem like a nice moment when they can do it by themselves, yet we, as human beings, tend to believe that we know what is best and what is most important – for example, that we can find God on our own.
“The Reformed Church in Hungary (RCH) finds Starpoint great, and supports and loves it. According to our experiences, we can’t learn how to ride a bike on our own – we also need help to learn how to walk in faith. Sometimes from children, but mostly from elders,” emphasized Bishop Szabó, “Let your leaders, your small group leaders and those ‘who are young in soul’ to encourage you. They want to help you walk in faith so you may walk safely during the important moments of life.” The Bishop recalled another memory: Once a friend asked him to look up at a pigeon’s nest. When he could not find it, he pretended to see it as to stop his friend from mocking him. “Never say that you see something if you don’t. Instead, ask your friend to raise his hand and point to it to you! Apostle Paul writes to the Romans to be encouraged by each other’s faith. Let’s help each other to come to faith!” he explained.
All these stories teach us about one thing: “God surrounds us; this is his great secret. He is at the center of the circle and all eyes are on him, but he is also at the edge of the circle. We are surrounded by friends, sometimes by enemies or troubles, but the joyful experience of faith is that despite all of these, God embraces everything.” Bishop Szabó said that a mother can only wrap her arms around three little children or two older ones or, most probably, one grown up child at once. But the church is different. “The Mother Church is a wonderful mother – she can embrace millions because her hands are moved by the Holy Spirit. Feel the Kingdom of God surround you as you look for Him in the middle,” encouraged Bishop István Szabó to the young people, “Find Jesus Christ, entrust your life to Him because His love, His merciful reality embraces our lives one by one and together as well.”
There is no canned Manna
In his sermon, Rev. Péter Pál Czeglédi from Hajdúbagos reminded the participants of the various forms of hunger with the story, Feeding the Five Thousand (Mark 6:33-44). The pastor asked the participants to think about what they brought in their bags to Starpoint. Did they think about what they would eat? As he said, it is hard to plan and prepare spiritual food. He himself came as a hungry person to preach the Word of God. But he knows there are people who have already been fed at home. “However, spiritual food cannot be saved
, there’s no such thing as canned Manna. We’re here with a growling stomach, and we should recognize this first,” he emphasized. Even if everything is provided at Starpoint to be filled spiritually, from time to time, we need to return to God’s love, which is the well.
How can a person be spiritually hungry during a five-day Reformed youth gathering? The Gospel of Mark is sobering, because it shows that in spite of hearing the living word from the mouth of Jesus, the multitude will still be hungry. “Even if Jesus Christ is present, things will not automatically be okay. It means a lot that you all are here and listening to me, but we need more – as Jesus did when he also asked the disciples what they had brought with them,” reminded Rev. Péter Pál Czeglédi. That is how the five loaves of bread and the two fish came into the story, which, at first seemed as if it was not enough. But the message is that what we have in our bags is not enough – we must remember, blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. “Jesus urges and encourages the disciples to solve the tasks. That’s how it becomes our story as well: We have the ingredients that Christ needs to make a miracle – it is us who stand as equals in front of God,” he added.
According to the preacher of the opening worship, we must admit that our congregation, our community, or our awaking faith is what we have. But the result of this is not just that we hand it over to Jesus, rather, the miracle is that we have a role in sharing the bread and the fish: Let us be able to give what we have received from Him. It is an especially nice parallel that during communion we always take the bread and the wine from the hand of another person. It also expresses that we cannot gain salvation from ourselves: The Kingdom of God is around the Lord’s table where everyone receives the bread and the wine from one another’s hand.
“The Lord’s message is that there are no unnecessary people – we need each other. Jesus multiples what we have, we are the hands that share life-giving food,” he continued. As he said, we are not participants, but contributors to the Kingdom of God. “I encourage you to put down and share your spiritual food that is on your heart – it will be enough and not be awkward. Put it down and experience the miracle that Christ says Grace over it and multiples the little that you have,” added Péter Pál Czeglédi. “If you have done this and you see how full the basket is, then dare to obey Christ’s command: That you give with your faith, your love, your happiness, but also with your tears as well. May God let us experience the feeling when everyone who is in need be fed and there will even be left overs.”
During the liturgy of the 2019 Starpoint Opening Worship youth delegate of the Presbyterian Church of Pakistan representing the Tehillim School of Church Music & Worship Samreen Shahzad David read the Bible text in Urdu.
Written by Zsuzsanna Farkas
Translated by Jázmin Milcsevics
Photos by Norbert Fekete, Richárd Kalocsai, Ervin Rácz, László Sebestyén, László Szarvas