Christmas Memories – Advent Devotion
December 18, 2020
“Christmas @ ICE”
Before my retirement at the end of 2016, my final youth group event was to take my students to ICE at the Gaylord Palms hotel in Orlando. It is a multiple rooms annual event (Not this year, unfortunately) of hand-sculpted figures and displays by 40 international artisans and kept at a chilling 9 degrees!
As I mentioned, it was my final event before retirement. So, I wanted to end with an event that was fun and promoted fellowship amongst the group. We went to ICE on a Sunday after worship services.
We began our afternoon/evening with lunch at Sonny’s BBQ. Then it was off to Orlando for a chilling experience. BTW, if you ever go to ICE in the future, prepare for very frigid temperatures. Even though Gaylord Palms supplies quilted coats for everyone, wear a coat, gloves, and a hat that covers your ears.
When we arrived at Gaylord Palms, hundreds of people were waiting to get into ICE (By reservation only). So, we took some time in the ICE Christmas store and got a group shot with Santa.
At some point, our group was contacted by text to come to ICE’s entry, where we were given bulky quilted winter coats.
Within moments we were transported into a winter wonderland of A Charlie Brown Christmas ice figurines and scenes. It was so cold I could only take a few pictures at a time before I had to put my hands in my pockets to warm-up.
I felt sad for my wife Kathy, as she was in a wheelchair. So, she was unable to stay warm by moving around like the rest of the group.
The students had so much fun, as did the adults. There was even an ice slide you could climb up to and ride down. Gaylord Palms saved the best for last with ice sculptures of the manger scene.
After about 45 minutes or so in “ICE,” the group was “done.” We were all freezing. After dropping our coats off at the exit, I brought the students back to the Christmas shop where everyone had hot chocolate, baked goods and discussed their “Frozen” experience.
Ice was great, but the fellowship between and with my students at my final ministry event with them is something I’ll never forget.
After the Holy Spirit had come down to the believers at Pentecost, Luke talks about “The Fellowship of Believers.”
This passage from Acts denotes the perfect church, or perhaps the ideal youth group. Being in fellowship with others is so important. I have countless stories of my students helping each other, wanting to be with each other, because they had a connection with each other. It’s something we should strive for in the church and our community as well.
My ultimate goal as a youth leader was to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to my students. But, how I did it through fellowship events was not always accepted by the churches I served.
You see, through fellowship, we build relationships with each other and also with God. How? Because we become like-minded. We choose to be together in worship, Bible study, fun activities, and yes, even commune together.
Jesus came so we might be saved. When we fellowship with other Christians, we grow relationships and our faith in Jesus Christ.