Message from Jeff
December 17, 2019
Have 1 Minute to Read? - Upcoming Detail
Current Sunday Series: ???
- We'll spend the next Sunday talking with our middle schoolers about what they'd like to do this winter.
Christmas Eve Pageant 12/24, 5:00pm
- We're welcoming any middle schoolers to participate in our simple Christmas Eve pageant in a variety or roles.
- Talk to Bethany or me for more details
Save the dates:
- RECLAIM Weekend: 2/21 - 2/23
Have 4 Minutes to Read? - Talking About Christmas
"Is any of this stuff real?" That may be the question you get this Christmas season. As middle schoolers start to work out a faith journey that will be unique to themselves questions start to pop up that we aren't always prepared for. Just think of all the leaps of faith told in the Christmas story:
- Angels appearing
- Special stars being hung in the sky
- A virgin birth
That last one is usually the one that tips off inquiring minds. After all, they've all had "the talk" by now either by you, their school, or (gulp) their friends. So, they know this is not how science works. What if instead of changing the topic or stammering through a half-baked answer you're thinking up on the spot you took this opportunity to have a "grown up" conversation about faith, spirituality, and the Christmas story? After all, the lie we all told them about Santa Claus has been out of the bag for some time now. Is this story a lie also?
It's hard to find balance between wonder and specificity, between skepticism and hope, between the big picture and the details. There are very smart and very good people that believe myriad things about the Christmas story. You might want to direct your children to considering that.
One resource I'll point you to is by The Bible Project. We use their content every summer to great acclaim by our middle schoolers. Below is a 4 minute video spot. Your could use this video to talk about the particulars of Christmas. Or you could use it to talk about the big picture of what's being portrayed here, that God often uses the unexpected to remind us of our equal value.
Have 8 Minutes to Read and Watch? - The Birth of Jesus - Gospel of Luke Ch. 1-2
Have 3 Minutes to Read? - Why Don't We Teach Anything?
One of the best features of the Marin Interfaith Youth Group Meet Up is that there is no teaching. There are two main benefits to this. One is that our young people have been sitting in classes all week then again on the weekend at their congregations and we want them to, yet again, sit and listen attentively as someone many of them won't know shares a lesson with them. What percentage of these youth will that lesson be remembered by?
Then again, what if we took that time (because time is of the essence, we can't stay there forever) and used it towards a service project that all of them are passionate about? After all, the point of the Marin Interfaith Youth Group Meet Up is to help normalize relationships between faith communities. Playing icebreakers together introduces them to each other in a fun way. Singing songs like Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift bring us together by their harmonies and hooks that we all know. Playing an upfront game gives us all a chance to laugh with each other. Serving together, if only for 30 minutes, allows us to work together on a common task. Working together is a much better conduit to getting to know one another than sitting quietly while somebody else talks.
Going even deeper and behind the scenes, one of the things that prevents many faith communities from getting involved is the apprehension about what somebody else might say from an upfront role. Unfortunately, many youth groups only feel comfortable when one of their own is the teacher. "We'd love to have you come to your youth group," but, "we're not comfortable sitting in yours." When we take the microphone away from each other we allow the youth themselves to be the ones talking..to each other! And that's what these are all about.
We don't have to tell our youth that inclusivity and interfaith relationships are important. They know that. We just have to show them what they look like.
Have 7 Minutes to Read? - Teaching Grace in the Home
One of the central tenets of our faith that may differ from others is the idea that we don't really do anything to reach God. Rather, God comes to us. Regardless of how "religious" we are or how much we know about the Bible. Despite the mess we make of own lives and others, despite how often we disappoint ourselves or others, we are always loved. Through the Holy Spirit, God's presence is with us always. Even more, God wants to be there with us especially in the messiness.
We call this grace.
You and I might be able to appreciate the grace God gives. That we are loved by something so holy regardless of what we do or don't do, but it may be hard to instill this sort of thing in the heart (not just the mind) of a young person. We all know that our faith can't solely be taught. It has to be experienced.
So how do we experience it in the home?
Just say, "I'm sorry" to your teenager more. That's a great starting place.
"I'm sorry for the tone of voice I used when I asked you about your homework."
"I'm sorry that I misunderstood the conflict you were having with your brother and jumped to an unfair conclusion."
"I'm sorry that I wasn't sensitive enough to how tired you were from soccer."
In today's world our youth feel extraordinary pressures from all kinds of angles. We want them to know that their family is a safe place. And we hope that they are an example of grace to others.
If you want to make your home a hub of grace, try the following:
1. Keep your personal antennae up for times when your own fatigue causes you to speak unkindly to your kids.
2. when you feel like you've wronged your kids, tell them that you're sorry and ask for their forgiveness. Say, "Is that okay?" or "Does that make sense?"
3. Make sure you are quick to extend forgiveness to your kids when they need to do the same.