I've been a bit delinquent in blogging this week, and I just got back from a weekend conference youth (CCYM) retreat held at one of our conference camps, Casowasco.
It was an exhausting weekend, with a wedding thrown in the middle. But the thing that keeps me doing youth work, the reason that makes all the craziness worth it, which I've mentioned before, is seeing youth articulate their faith for themselves, their own thoughts, sometimes for the first time, as they are figuring out who they are. Being a witness to the transition between child and adult is a precious gift, even if I occasionally (or frequently) want to pull my hair out from being part of such a process.
This weekend, our keynote was my probationary colleague Rev. Heather Williams, and the theme of the weekend was "You've Got a Friend in Me," based on Disney's Toy Story. In one of her talks, Heather referred to the movie and how Woody knows that he belongs to Andy because Andy has written his name on Woody's foot. Then Woody acts out in pain, anger, and violence when he thinks Andy doesn't want him any more. She compared this to our belonging to God, and how we act when we think we don't belong to God any more, or when we think that God has broken promises to us.
In youth witnessing (we give youth time to do 'open witness' - just come up and tell how they see God working in their lives):
One youth read from a book - and I unfortunately can't site the source - but the quote was something like this: "We spend too much time stealing time from those who love us most trying to please those who love us least." Is that on target or what? As youth, as people, as pastors we do this.
Another youth shared something a friend had told her: "If it's not great at the end, it isn't the end."
Sometime the youth have theology that is - well, undeveloped. But it is their own. They are working on saying what they believe and why for themselves, and that's a lot to work through. So I admire them for being willing to stand up in front of 100 other youth and cry and laugh with them and be honest about their fears and doubts and stumbling faith. Good stuff.