Harvest Rally, New Traditions, and Joey with a Sledgehammer

15 Oct

Harvest Rally, New Traditions, and Joey with a Sledgehammer

I wrote the below post in 2009, following a teen Harvest Rally at our church. I am resurrecting it this week, as we have moved the venue this year and just had our first annual Harvest Rally out in the Surry County countryside, across the James River from Jamestown, where everything began for the U.S.!

It was a glorious day out there today in the golden autumn sunshine. There were several special new events (new traditions) like guessing the weight of the world’s hugest bull, taking hayrides behind several of the farm’s tractors, shooting on the range, and destroying an old car with sledgehammers. Joey, whose favorite youth group activity ever (up till now) was tearing down an old shed on the church property, was in his element with the sledgehammer and the car!!!

One really neat moment for me was getting to share with a couple of girls who noticed that everyone else was trying to collapse the car’s roof, while Joey was just whacking away at the side of the car. The group had a strategy and Joey, typical for a young man with Aspergers syndrome, didn’t pick up on that. The girls were kind of laughing at how Joey was “getting nowhere” when I told them that it is really important for a person with autism to feel like a part of a group and that Joey was having a blast because he felt that way. It was a gentle moment, in which I could address their laughter with some loving teaching.

Now, my 2009 post:

I just picked my kid up from the Harvest Rally held at our church every October. It is an old Baptist tradition for teenagers. I went to them when I was a child in Michigan. Only then we drove all the way to Detroit and held them in a church in the suburbs there (in Taylor, Michigan). It was a three hour ride on the church bus and made me feel very adult!!! It was also once the occasion when I first lost my heart to a boy (on the church bus ride to Harvest Rally day, the year I was 14).

These rallies involve immense numbers of youth from all of the churches in an area getting together for a day of teaching, games, sports, pizza, teaching, meeting with Christian college recruiters, prizes, snacks from the snack bar, and, oh, did I say teaching? When I drove in to get Joey today, there were about four full-sized church buses in our parking lot, along with about ten church vans. Lots of individual cars, too, as kids from this area don’t necessarily come with their church.

I think there may have been 400 kids and, with the sunshine and 81 degree temperature we had today, it was great!

The bus that had come the farthest was from Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, over three hours south of us. Just like my experience as a teen!

Joey and everyone there seems to have had a wonderful time. I love traditions like this. I believe there was a reason God gave the Old Testament Jews so many festivals every year, usually centered on the agricultural cycle. Festivals and celebrations define us and refresh us.

I know everyone will be getting their sleep tonight, as the rally started at 9 and went till 5 this afternoon. It sounds like it was a good time, getting away with other youth for fellowship and teaching. I still smile when I remember our trips to harvest rallies in days gone by. I know Joey and his friends will remember days like today always.


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