|Matt Maher Shares About His World Youth Day 2008 Experience in Australia
31 July 2008
I wish you could have experienced World Youth Day (WYD) 2008 with me, in the beautiful land down under. I’ll use words as best I can to describe this life-changing, actually, make that world-changing, event.
My band and I were in Australia for 9 days (July 10-18, 2008) for the WYD experience, but it felt like 9 weeks because there was SO much going on. It didn’t matter, because we were so excited and honored to be a part of the pilgrimage, and are looking forward to seeing the relationships that we have built around the world continue to grow according to God’s timing. There were so many highlights of the WYD experience, that I will break them down into events, the first being the Opening Mass on Tuesday, July 15. One of the event coordinators was gracious enough to allow us access to see the Opening Mass from a bird's eye view over the Barangaroo site, on the Darling Harbour. It was unbelievable to see so many nations gathered under the banner of Christ - a true sight to behold.
The next day, Wednesday, July 16, we participated in two events on opposite sides of town - one was with the Sisters of Life at their event called “Love Life.” Set on the campus of Notre Dame in Sydney, we were able to celebrate love and life, the themes of the event, alongside over 2,000 pilgrims in a beautiful courtyard. Later that evening, at Bondi Beach we were honored to be able to play and pray in such a cultural epicenter of Sydney-life, and proclaim on the shores of the beach, "...all who are thirsty, come!" What a great time! I know that event was an opportunity to reach out to not only the 10,000 pilgrims gathered in that beautiful setting, but also to people that were passing by – so it was truly a great time of spontaneous ministry!
On Thursday evening, July 17, we had a great experience being in a world-class facility, the Sydney Entertainment Centre for the XLT, with Life Teen. In this very venue, artists from all genres of music have come to perform, record live CDs and film live DVDs. To bring songs that announced the name of God in that very place - what an honor. As well, it was a great opportunity to connect young people globally with the vision that God has given the folks from Life Teen.
Friday, July 18 marked an event that I'll especially call a highlight - Receive the Power Live! For me, this event was not only a highlight, but quite possibly the event that touched me the most, because it had, at it's core, a heart of unity. To be involved at an event with the wonderful folks from Hillsong, and once again, in the heart of Sydney - to lift high the Name of Jesus, and pray for a new spirit of evangelization to go out into the world - wow! What a tremendous opportunity! Just to look out that night and see so many flags from nations all over the world, held by pilgrims singing songs like "Shout to the Lord," "How Great Is Our God," "Your Grace Is Enough," - the notion that God had literally gathered the nations - to pray and receive His Spirit - amazing! I know that I will be, for months to come, unpacking what God did that night. I am especially grateful to the archdiocese of Sydney, Car dinal Pell, Brian Houston - and of course, the whole team who put the event together. Their partnership in this event is an example that churches around the world should be looking at to see how they can work together more.
Saturday, July 19 marked our last full day in Sydney. Saturday morning we were up bright and early with all of the pilgrims from the United States, and the United States Bishops and Cardinals (of which there were over 100) for Mass - and it was a great time of prayer and reflection. I was glad we made the effort and got up so early, even though we had finished up really late the evening before at Receive the Power Live! Honestly, I'm not even sure what to say about Saturday afternoon - this event was a part of the Youth Festival just before the Saturday evening Vigil Mass. The highlight of Saturday, the whole point of it - the whole point of the entire week - has nothing to do with us, even though we played in front of 300,000 people and the closest person was a football field away! It seemed like they were singing along. We didn't want people singing with "us" - we wanted them joining in on the songs of Heaven - that is o ur heart, and hopefully the hundreds of thousands of folks who got to see us play, didn't really see "us" at all, but rather, hopefully, they had an experience with Christ; He is the point, after all. Not "World Youth Day" or "Matt Maher and Band" - it's about Christ.
That is my prayer. And thanks for taking the time to read about the experience.
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