This past weekend, 19 youth and 4 adults enjoyed a wonderful retreat at Smith Mountain Lake. We played, swam, kayaked, paddle-boarded, canoed, flipped off of an inner tube pulled behind the boat at top speed, and ate a lot of delicious food. But most importantly, we took 24 hours out of the back-to-school craze and all the stressors inherent in that transition, to just enjoy life. We spent the weekend talking and playing together, and took time to rest, breathe, and appreciate the wonder of God in our natural surroundings and in each other.
Hot Dog Cookout, Pool Party & Homemade Ice Cream Social on Sunday, August 16, 3:00 pm /
Youth Retreat at Smith Mountain Lake at 9:00 am, Saturday, August 22 until Noon, Sunday, August 23 /
Wed. Supper & Programming resumes on Wednesday, August 26, 5:00 pm.
Called Church Conference, Wednesday, August 26, 6:15 pm
Desserts & Fireworks – Saturday, 8:00 pm
At the Millers’ Home. Bring a chair or a blanket.
RSVP Erin Brown
The youth and I would like to extend a huge thank you to everyone who woke up early this Sunday to join us for breakfast! We know it was a sacrifice to rise early the same day you also lost an hour of sleep, and we appreciate your support, both this Sunday and always. Many of our youth ministries and activities happen solely because of your help and encouragement, and we are grateful for such an amazingly supportive congregation! It was wonderful to see a packed fellowship hall full of smiling faces, and to benefit from the generosity of so many church members as we prepare for our mission trip this summer!
Though the youth did their best to match the smiles and enthusiasm of those who joined us for breakfast, after our Saturday night lock-in full of fun and festivities that lasted into the wee hours, some of us rocked the ‘glazed over’ look more readily than the ‘I’m-so-happy-to-greet-the-new-day’ expressions we were desperately hoping to achieve.
Saturday night, however, was a different story. That evening, 21 youth eagerly helped assemble breakfast casseroles or prepared in other ways for Sunday’s breakfast. After these tasks were complete, we were free to enjoy racing scooters in the fellowship hall, playing multiple rounds of the hide-and-seek game “sardines”, devouring more junk food than you may think is humanly possible (and certainly more than is humanly advisable), and playing a game of Human Hungry Hippos, an adaptation of the childhood board game where brightly-colored hippos shoot out from corners of the board to “eat” as many marbles as possible. If you’re curious about what this looks like with teenagers instead of plastic hippos, take a look:
Saturday night we also spent some quality time with God and with each other in prayer. We discussed the difficult question of if/how God answers some prayers and not others, and the different ways we can pray that may or may not resemble the traditional spoken prayers we use in church. Then we took time to commune openly and honestly with God, in written and spoken prayer.
Sunday morning we continued our exploration of prayer, worshipping individually or in groups at different prayer stations. Everyone was free to pray in as many different ways as they wished… some explored a number of different stations while others remained in one particular type of prayer for the duration. The youth were invited to pray while doodling, similar to the idea of “praying in color” that Lynn Martin introduced to us a few years ago. We prayed directionally, lifting up people facing different cardinal directions (to the south: patients in the hospital, to the north: family in New York, to the east: Christians in Syria, etc.). We prayed through music, we prayed in different postures, we prayed molding play-dough into a representation of our prayers, we prayed writing letters to those on our minds and hearts, and we prayed for those people and needs recommended in our Lenten prayer guide, “Seek God for the City”.
While watching a slideshow of pictures displaying God’s amazing creation, several youth commented that because they often find active, spoken prayer difficult, it was meaningful and freeing to be able to sit back and experience, admire, and praise God without saying a word. Others especially liked praying with stones. Writing a particular need on a stone and holding onto it while praying provided a simple yet very concrete (no pun intended) expression of our prayer requests and praises. Another teenager appreciated the station where he could write a prayer in the form of a haiku. He explained that he often gets distracted while praying, but writing a haiku required all of his attention, and through writing, he was able to fully concentrate on God. I will close with his words of prayer, as well as another gem of a haiku written by one of our amazing youth:
I pray for the poor
For people who aren’t happy
For people I love
God is the bestest
He is all-knowing and cool
Jesus loves all peeps
Last Thursday, the film “I’m Not Racist, Am I?” was shown at the Paramount Theater downtown. The documentary follows a diverse group of 12 New York City teenagers as they engage in a yearlong process examining racism in their lives and communities. Six of our youth attended the showing (along with hundreds of other local teenagers and adults) and were so moved that they asked if they could share what they had learned at our next Real Life meeting.
This past Sunday evening, after we engaged in some general antics of merriment (devouring pizza, popping balloons, imitating both Taylor Swift and the author of Genesis, etc.), the youth who attended the film shared some of the stories and questions of the teenagers in the documentary, as well as their own reactions to the ideas presented in the film. For the rest of Real Life, the group then embarked on an hour-long discussion of racism: examples of racial prejudice in their own lives or the lives of friends, the prevalence of racial slurs and why that is problematic, whether racism is an individual reaction or systemic throughout society, and what our role is as Christians, as followers of Jesus, in addressing racism in our community. The youth asked great questions, answered honestly and thoughtfully, shared openly and poignantly, and throughout our conversation addressed an incredibly complex idea with amazing insight and maturity.
Long story short, UBC has an amazing group of youth. And when I say amazing, that’s an understatement.
Sunday, February 15, the Youth will be meeting at 5:00 pm
to cook and serve dinner at the Ronald McDonald House and the Hospitality House.
This Sunday, February 1st !
5:30 – End of Game – At Carter Groff’s House
Pizza dinner provided. Please bring a snack/appetizer or dessert.