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friends, youth group planning, and thoughts from this weekend December 3, 2007

Posted by abi in life, youth ministry.
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This weekend was slightly a blur.  A good blur, but a blur nonetheless.  Friday was a relaxing night in with the boyfriend over for dinner.  Even though he’s going through a lot right now, we both just had a great time relaxing together and not doing or thinking about much of anything.  Saturday morning I had good intentions of getting to the gym…..but didn’t wake up until after 10am….so it didn’t happen.  I had lunch with my artsy friends, Jennifer and Alex.  Alex was in town for Thanksgiving during her off-shift (she works at a wilderness therapy place down in the mountains of NC) and always has great stories.  This time was no exception – she was telling us about the girls she works with and how she was recently stalking Ani Difranko in Ashville.  Good times.  Then Jennifer and I went to a bridal shower for a girl from our Bible study.  Made it home just in time to go grab dinner with boyfriend and head over to another one of my high schooler’s plays – Romeo and Juliet. 

After church on Sunday, I met with my 2 parent volunteers to go over scheduling and events for spring.  It was supposed to be a brief meeting, but ended up being nearly an hour and a half.  It was good to get so much done though and we were all glad we had taken the time to get it (mostly) squared away now – before all the holiday craziness.  I’m excited about what we have planned – but it also a little intimidating, because I know its a lot more than I did last year and going to be a lot of work.  But I think it’s still all manageable.  Especially when, as we are leaving both the parent volunteers start divving up all the tasks, such as scheduling, emails, getting parent chaperones, etc. – so that I can simply plan and run the activities and be there for the kids.  Which is great – because the details are what bog me down. 

Some things we’re planning for next spring:
– In January: my Bible study group of girls (young adults in our 20s-30s) wants to do a sleepover for my youth group girls where we share with them some of the things we’ve recently been studying about women of the Bible – maybe focusing on Esther and watching the movie “One Night with the King”.  I think this will be a really neat thing – I love to expose my youth to young adults who are living their faith – since there are very few young adults at our church right now. 
– In February: 30-hour Famine – which will be another first for this church.   The youth have been begging to do a lock-in and I decided if we were going to do one, it may as well have a good purpose!  And I just think it will be a good, new experience for them in fasting and thinking about hunger in the world. 
– In March: The youth have annually cooked, served, and provided entertainment for a fancy dinner to the senior citizens in our church.  It’s a favorite event for both the youth and the seniors. 
– In April:  Our church’s annual youth group retreat.  It was an incredible time last year – and a first for me to plan/write material for the whole retreat weekend.  A lot of work, but very worthwhile. 
– and we’re gearing up for our second High School mission trip.  And I’m really excited because I already have a parent chaperone on board!  Last year I was begging and God provided at the last minute – this year I’m really praying for more youth and we’ll need more chaperones….

It was a “big” youth group night (middle and high) – Sunday Night Live – this week.  And I had been praying about it and had done a little thinking/planning during the week.  I had a vague idea about the scripture point and thought illustrations through enough to know that I was going to play some games and do some activities with newspaper – so I had spread the word to parents to save their recycling for us.  But that was about it.  I unfortunately waited until Sat. night/Sunday to do most of my planning.  But it surprisingly didn’t take long to come up with the programming and talk for the night.  I was kind of amazed and wondered if I was slacking off and not going as deep or interesting as I used to…but after the night went off well, I realized that maybe I’m just getting better at it.  What used to take me days and days to think through just to come up with the ideas, then setup the details hours and hours ahead of time….seemed to have taken me so much less stress and time this week.  I guess I know a lot better how to plan activities that will last long enough, but not too long, know my youth well enough to know what they will “get” easily and what they won’t, and just am a lot more comfortable with it all.  We ended up playing games and making snowmen out of newspaper.  Then finding happy vs. sad stories and talking a little about them.  We talked about advent and Angel Gabriel bringing the “good news” and then they dramatically retold the Christmas story using newspaper costumes and different themes.  Sounds a little cheesey – but I’ve got a pretty crazy bunch that likes that sort of thing.  We did some worship and I read them the lyrics from the song Rebel Jesus by Jackson Browne (Bebo Norman recently did a neat cover of it on his new Christmas album).  We discussed the song and their thoughts about the Christmas season.  

The Rebel Jesus

All the streets are filled with laughter and light
And the music of the season
And the merchants’ windows are all bright
With the faces of the children
And the families hurrying to their homes
As the sky darkens and freezes
They’ll be gathering around the hearths and tales
Giving thanks for all god’s graces
And the birth of the rebel Jesus

          Well they call him by the prince of peace
          And they call him by the savior
          And they pray to him upon the seas
          And in every bold endeavor
          As they fill his churches with their pride and gold
          And their faith in him increases
          But they’ve turned the nature that I worshipped in
          From a temple to a robber’s den
          In the words of the rebel Jesus

          We guard our world with locks and guns
          And we guard our fine possessions
          And once a year when christmas comes
          We give to our relations
          And perhaps we give a little to the poor
          If the generosity should seize us
          But if any one of us should interfere
          In the business of why they are poor
          They get the same as the rebel Jesus

But please forgive me if I seem
To take the tone of judgment
For I’ve no wish to come between
This day and your enjoyment
In this life of hardship and of earthly toil
We have need for anything that frees us
So I bid you pleasure
And I bid you cheer
From a heathen and a pagan
On the side of the rebel Jesus.

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