Youth Ministry Blog

Confusing Religion with God

Happy Friday! 
Make sure you send safe travels to our CYF youth as they head to Disciples Crossing for a retreat directed by our very own Jamie and Skylar Plunkett! 
Russ spoke about integrity last week, and we continued a discussion of this concept on Sunday night after watching another Nooma video with Rob Bell. In this video, Rob says: "A lot of people confuse religion with God and walk away from them both."It can be easy to confuse religion with God if you've grown up in a family that attends church every Sunday and celebrates all the expected holidays. However, these systems and traditions that we are accustomed to are not God, nor are they the only ways for us to experience God. 
I think the youth at UCC do a magnificent job of demonstrating how to experience God outside of the church. Camp, Service-Learning Trips, Roots, Yogi's Breakfast, Community Groups, and even Whirlyball are places we experience God through one another without the structure of a traditional religion. As a community, we are trying to seek the sacred. This task may seem more accessible in the sanctuary or during Sunday School, but I think our faith is more courageous than that. Our faith has the ability to function outside of church walls and seek not only the sacred, but seek to feed the hungry, shelter the weak, and embrace the stranger. 
I hope the high-schoolers have a wonderful weekend out in Athens, and that they are able to see the sacred in all they do. For those of us at home, I encourage all to do the same--find God in the places you would least expect. 

 Be well, 

My cup runneth over

Hey everyone! As most of you know, I'm a part of Bethany Fellows - a young clergy cohort that meets twice a year. In between retreats, we check in with our mentors in the program. Mine is David Shirey, senior minister at Central Christian Church in Lexington, Kentucky. 
We had our most recent check-in on Thursday morning of this week. I guess David could tell that I was feeling rushed when we got on the phone. I had let Nolan sleep a bit later than normal that morning, which meant that David called as I was getting Nolan into his class at the Weekday School.  
I rushed up the stairs to my office to call him back, and he cut me off as I apologized and said "Jamie, it's ok. Catch your breath. Find your balance." 
There's a little phrase in the King James Version of the 23rd Psalm that we all probably know pretty well. 
"My cup runneth over." 
We almost exclusively think of this verse in Psalm 23 as a good thing. Our lives are filled with blessings. We could all create long lists of the things that fill our cup. Spouses, kids, friends, our vocations (as Russ preached about a few weeks ago), hobbies that we love, etc. 
But what happens when all of those blessings continue to fill and fill and fill our cups up? When we continue to pour our time and energy and hearts into all of those things? 
Then our cup running over might start to feel a bit like we're drowning. 

So the question is, then, how do we keep our cups filled without getting the sense that we are drowning? 

I think this is where self care comes into play, in the form of finding a healthy balance for yourself and for your family. Sometimes we have to step back for a moment and take a deep breath. 
I have had the privilege for the past two years to see you all work tirelessly, caring for your people, giving your vocations everything you have, and pouring into our church community. And it is my prayer that all of you feel like you have a good balance in your lives, and that you don't feel overwhelmed or like you're drowning.  But if you do... It's ok. Catch your breath. Find your balance. 

Grace and Peace,

Lack of God's Presence

Hi Friends! 
Today about 30 UCC youth and adults are headed to Disciples Crossing for the Chi Rho midwinter retreat, yay! The theme for this weekend is God Runs After Us, which follows the fall retreat's theme of Running from God. We talked at the fall retreat about the reasons why we may run from God. This weekend, we'll look into the book of Exodus and it's examples of when the Israelite people thought God was absent in the midst of their journey. 
What are times that you have felt a lack of God's presence in your journey? We talked a bit about this in our last discussion of Rob Bell's video, Trees, and how there are events in the world which we don't see an active God. Our youth provided excellent examples of these moments such as acts of hatred, injustice, and violence across the globe. 
While those examples are definitely moments where God's presence is lacking, it is important to acknowledge that there are smaller, less definable moments where we can't seek the sacred. Sometimes it's on the way to school when you realize your friend won't be in your lunch, so you rack your brain trying to think of one person you can sit with. You might not be able to find God because you're sitting in a hospital waiting room, attending a friend's funeral, receiving a bad grade, or even sitting in traffic. 
We can't discount these feelings and frustrations because they don't seem as intense/impactful as world-wide events, but instead we need to affirm our reactions to experiences that seem out of our control. I encourage you to try and seek the sacred when it's not easy this week. Allow yourself to feel upset and discouraged, and then push yourself to find God's grace.
I'm looking forward to spending the weekend with such wonderful youth, and hope everybody has a safe weekend! 

Be well, 

Previous12345678910 ... 1112