As we end the year, I’d like to express my deep gratitude to all the readers of this bog. . I look forward to more faith forming adventures in 2017! Grace and peace,
November was a difficult month for the youth I know. In the weeks before and after the election, I spoke with the youth at my church, with my own teenagers, their friends, and with several teachers and administrators from different school districts. Each and every youth I spoke with had witnessed or been a victim of racist, sexist, and/or homophobic statements.
As it happened, we had a scheduled worship service focused on peace at the end of November. One of our members had seen a hand painted sign someone had created for their home and shared it with me, hoping that we might create one for our church. During that Sunday evening youth group, we used the worship reading, Isaiah 2:4, to frame our discussion. We Make the Road by Walking by Brian McLaren has been an excellent resource for worship and youth group. At the end of the discussion, we created a sign that now sits at the entry of our church, to welcome all people.
The conversation was intentionally more free flowing rather than lesson like. Below are the questions I used, in the general order they came up:
- Check in: When have you experienced peace? I was surprised to hear our youth begin with ways they experience peace in their lives. At this point in the discussion, there was a lot of individual reflection on finding peace within busy, demanding schedules. Youth shared the ways that rest, exercise, prayer and coloring help them to find moments of peace in their own lives.
- Read Isaiah 2:4
- What does this Bible passage tell us about God’s hopes for the nation and the world?
- Compare and contrast this with what we are seeing in the world. Where do you see violence? Bullying? Racism? Hatred? There was rich discussion on the post-election protests, especially whether or not certain methods were helpful. Several youth expressed that negative messages about the president-elect were not helpful in promoting discussion or understanding. This lead to more discussion about how, as Christians, we express ourselves.
- As Christians, what message do we have to share about peace and love in the world? Compare and contrast the Good News with the messages we hear from our leaders.
- How might we promote peace?
- Thinking of those we know who have experienced racism, bigotry and hateful statements, how do we support and welcome groups of people who have felt unsafe?
- Who in particular needs to be welcomed to our faith community in the name of Jesus Christ?
A note on creating the sign: there is a fence company near my home that puts out the endcuts of wood at the end of the day. I picked up this free wood to use for our projects. Students sanded the pieces of cedar (varying lengths approximately 8-15”) and then painted using acrylic paints (we are keeping the sign indoors). An adult volunteer later attached all the boards to a wooden stand we had in the shed. Using recycled materials and paint that we had on hand allowed us to make a beautiful sign for no cost.
You might also enjoy the post on creating Rainbow Prayer Kites.