By Cass DuCharme

published in Family Matters eNewsletter, February 23, 2018

Last Friday night from 8:00 p.m. – 8:00 a.m., 28 youth and 8 adults attended the all-night Youth Lock-In at the church. The first five hours included a citywide scavenger hunt, and bowling, pizza, laser tag, and bumper cars at Pin Strikes. At around 1:00 a.m. we got back to the church, the adults who had been the drivers went home to get some sleep and three of us stayed with the youth as we continued the fun.

Throughout the night we played games, especially Sardines, watched a movie, High School Musical 3, and played more Sardines. Most of the youth stayed awake all night like I did, some fell asleep during the movie and didn’t wake up until breakfast, and some just dozed off occasionally. Special thanks to the parents who drove us all over town, to Emma Tatum, who stayed until 3:30 a.m. and to Eydie Bowden, who stayed all night long! All in all, it was a fun evening and nothing at the church was broken. Not that I know of anyway.

As you know, our Lock-In just happened to fall during the first week in Lent. Earlier in the week, we celebrated Mardi Gras and Shrove Tuesday downtown on Cherry Street, where 25 Highland Hills folks gave away 500 pancakes with a side of bacon to around 200 people. (A special shout out to Laura Ann Tatum and her crew for making the pancakes and to the Rookery for providing the bacon.) We had fun celebrating with our community, where we shared pancakes with folks from all walks of life.

On Wednesday morning, Ash Wednesday, the church staff headed back downtown to Cherry Street where we imposed ashes on those who wanted to wear the mark of the cross and we offered a blessing to mark the beginning of the season of Lent. That evening we had a special Ash Wednesday service in the Sanctuary and everyone was given the opportunity to receive the ashes and to paint a cross on a canvas that is now displayed in the main hallway.

On Sunday morning, the First Sunday in Lent, Jake asked us during his sermon what we had given up for Lent, and under my breath, from the choir loft, I said, “speeding.” To which Jake responded, “Speeding, did you say? Cass DuCharme, you will be in our prayers and all of us will drive slowly in front of you to help you out.”

As I reflected on this past week, I was reminded of the youth from the Lock-In. Some were in it for the long haul and stayed up all night. Some fell asleep about halfway through, and then some dozed off and on all night long. Are you locked in to the season of Lent? Are you willing to stay in Lent for the long haul? Are you willing to offer the sacrifice and carry the repentance? I hope so. I also hope that you help someone else along the way, just like you all are going to help me with my speeding. By the way, I’ve already decided what I’m giving up for Lent next year… Lock-Ins.