We have landed at home… offering our final excerpt in our efforts at crowd-sourcing a new direction in youth ministry. Start here and play along. But, wait… There’s more! Check in tomorrow for a little something extra.
Andrew Root suggests that “Youth ministry could be defined as the ministry of the church that seeks to participate in God’s action with and for a culturally identified group called adolescents.” We must remember that youth ministry is a ministry of the Church… not just a specialized handful. We must remember that youth ministry seeks to participate in God’s action, not our own. Who does not want to connect into the action of the God surrounding them? We must remember that youth ministry addresses a culturally identified group called adolescents, but that their needs are not completely unique from our own.
MayaAngelou suggests that “the ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned”. Spiritual Homelessness describes that unspeakable longing to be at home with the transcendent, not to be just individually spiritual, but to connect with that which is beyond our experience in a safe place with others. In our deepest imagination, we hope that this place would be a setting that despite however much of “loser” we might be, we would be welcomed. For us, that place is Church, and our voices are stronger than ever when united in faith.
Another poet, RobertFrost, suggests in The Death of the Hired Man that “Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.” Luke 15 reminds us, however, that it should be even more than the act of taking us in, but also a gathering friends and neighbors that rejoice and celebrate us home.
Everyone needs and deserves that experience of being celebrated home… even Jesus. Even Jesus had moments where his own sense of Spiritual Homeless needed to come to rest in places that celebrated him along into maturity. He had parents who loved him, guided him, and exposed him to their own faith, traditions, and practices. He had a sense of community where he could safely interact with peers and adults alike, not only for fun and adventure, but to try on new possibilities and responsibilities. There was a group of adults who did not just suffer his questions, but embraced the challenges that they offered not only to Him, but to them as well.
Since we serve as disciples of the Lord through youth ministry, we recognize that we have been celebrated into our own spiritual home-ness of faith, and that must be passed along to others. When Jesus was a twelve-year-old he was celebrated home in faith, and he turned out to be okay. That moment in the temple was a point along the way for a trajectory of growth in exploring and understanding the love of God. Of course, he matured from a twelve-year-old into manhood being one who was able to appreciate the grace of God swirling around Him in each of the events and people that he encountered throughout all his life.
And, that grace was God’s unconditional love, celebrating him home into the Reign of God.
For Discussion: Can you describe your own experience of being celebrated home? Can you describe your own experience of celebrating another home? Please comment below with your critique clarifications, and responses. <image source>