Posts Tagged ‘reflection’

Although you wouldn’t really be able to tell from looking out my window at the 3 inches of snow that fell today, the seasons are beginning to change.  Winter turns to spring.  Academic busy-ness turns to spring fever and summer fun.  The ministry madness of the Christmas to Easter season begins to turn slowly to the more relaxed pace and flexibility of summer ministry.

As I was glancing today through my calendar for the next few months, I couldn’t help but notice something.  While there certainly isn’t a lack of work to do, events to plan, and family functions to attend in the coming months, they are looking significantly less full than the past few months have been.  Things are beginning to wind down for a season – you know how I can tell?

  • The number of youth events on my calendar has dropped.  SAC lunches are down to a minimum (due to upcoming holidays that fall on the 2nd Sunday of the month) and we’re preparing to wind down this academic-year-season of youth ministry at PLC.
  • There are fewer classes on the calendar this quarter.  Since one of my registered classes this quarter is Field Study, which is mostly taking place in conjunction with my ministry at PLC, I have fewer classes per week and at least the notion of less homework.  It’s a nice reprieve and lead-in to summer.
  • My little sister graduates from college in a month!  Even though her academic calendar finishes up about a month before mine, I’m already hearing the sounds of summer.

In addition to the change in perceived busy-ness, I’ve noticed a bit of a shift in my ministry.  What does this season look for me as I face a calendar with fewer events and more office hours?

  • Evaluation – For the first time I am facing the end of this academic-year-season of ministry knowing with certainty that I’ll be continuing in my ministry in this place.  I’ve been spending a lot of time lately reflecting on how we’ve done youth ministry this year at PLC and trying to figure out ways to build on that for next year.
  • Relational Connections – I’m beginning to step up my efforts in connecting with youth on their “turf” through coffee connections, texting (as much as I despise it sometime) and just checking in to see how they have grown during the course of the year.
  • Future Planning – I’m in the early stages of figuring out where Youth Ministry at PLC will be headed next year.  We’re in a place right now where some shifts are beginning to happen, and I’m excited to see where God is calling us to go this Fall.

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I was so excited last week when the new issue of Relevant Magazine arrived.  It’s a good thing that they only publish bi-monthly, because it usually takes me about two months to get through all the quality content in each issue.  This month as I browsed through the issue, there were a couple of articles that caught my eye right away.  One of them is a little one page article tucked in on p. 26 titled “Learning from Liturgy.”  You can read the full text of the article by checking out the online issue over at the Relevant Magazine website, but there were some really quality nuggets that I thought I’d pull out and share:

…Easter is one of three major celebrations in the liturgical year.  The liturgical year, or Christian calendar, is how many Christians (Roman Catholics, Lutherans, Presbyterians and others) have marked the passage of time for centuries.  It’s a potent antidote to trendiness…

… I’ve been marking time by the liturgical calendar for about there years.  It’s taken some adjusting.  But it forces me to think seriously about the whole Gospel story…

…During Lent, Christians examine their hearts and are particularly diligent about putting away sinful behaviors.  People often give something up for Lent.  This period is a reminder that following Christ means dying to myself every day…

…It’s easy to rip the death and resurrection of Christ out of its biblical context.  Yet the events of Holy Week place the event squarely within the narrative of the Gospel in real time.  We experience the servitude of Passover, just as the apostles did.  We experience the darkness of that Friday with them.  And we await the weekend for the resurrection, just as Jesus’ original followers did…

…Celebrating Easter this way may sound overly formal and complicated.  And to be honest, it is at first.  There’s really no other time that someone tells us how we should feel and when.  For that reason, the Lenten season and Holy week can be a bit like driving a car with one under-inflated tire:  you’re constantly working to keep the car in your lane while it wants to veer out.  After all, there are times during Lent when I think, All right, I get it.  I’ve repented; let’s get a move on.  But the season continues.  In the same way, there have been Easter Sundays when I didn’t feel much like celebrating, but the calendar reminds me, Rejoice!  He is risen!…

… There’s no real benefit in being somber for its own sake.  But in our daily lives, so abuzz with stimulation and celebration, the season leading up to Easter, and the Holy Week observances, create space to detach from mass-marketing and busyness and reflect on the death of our Lord.  Then, after a season of darkness, the light of Easter shines brightness…

There’s some good stuff in there, but you should probably go ahead and read the whole article.

What are your thoughts on the liturgical church year, particularly in the season of Lent?

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I love watching people who I care about do the things that they are passionate about.  And more than watching, I love involving myself.

Perhaps that explains my recent fascination with high school basketball.  It’s strange.  When I was in high school, I never attended a single basketball game, and I had no desire to do so.  This past December, I attended my first high school girls’ basketball game to cheer on a girl from our youth group (and a friend of hers who is a frequent visitor) who play on the varsity girls basketball team.  Since then, I’ve made it to four additional games and become almost compulsive about checking scores for not only their team, but other teams in the district and conference, and even my own high school (which I graduated from over 5 years ago!).  I don’t even particularly care for the sport, but since I have a connection through a person I’m invested in, I have become involved.

I love watching people who I care about do the things that they are passionate about.  And more than watching, I love involving myself.

While in college I used to sneak up into the balcony of the chapel during the times when the worship dance ministry practiced.  I would sit up there reading, or journaling, or just watching.  It was almost as though through watching the movement of others in worship I was able to participate in that which they were so passionate about.  I’m not a dancer, and probably will never have the poise or grace to lead others in worship through dance, but since I had a connection through people I was invested in, I became involved.

I love watching people who I care about do the things that they are passionate about.  And more than watching, I love involving myself.

What is it that draws us into things?  What is it that involves us?  For me it is the passion of a person in whom I have a vested interest.  It kind of makes me wonder.  What is it that I do with such passion that others are drawn into involvement?  Is there anything that I do with such passion?

I’d like to think that I am passionate about following Christ.  But do I really follow Christ with such passion that others are drawn into a relationship with Him?  I sure hope so.

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I am very fortunate to be living and learning in the company of people who come from all walks of life.  I am in classes with people who are parents, people who are right out of undergrad, people who have been pastors for years, people who are working a part-time food service job just to get by, people who come from different ethinc backgrounds than myself, people who have lived through some of the “historical” events that come up in our discussions, etc.  I have the privilege of working alongside people who are in ministry as a second career, who have experienced more pain in their lives than I can imagine, people who have been effected by the government and society since before I was born, and with people who know the true value of family, friends and life experience.  Many of the people who I have gotten to know the most in my classes are easily old enough to be my parents.  As I sit in classes alongside these fine people, I have recently been challenged.  I am humbled by the amount of “life experience” with which I am surrounded in any given day.

Life experience is one of those things that doesn’t happen over night.  (Duh, otherwise it wouldn’t be called life experience.)  Lately, I’ve become painfully aware of a rather annoying habit that I have — every time someone has a story to tell about one of their life experiences, I seem to have a “similar” story to share (although often times it’s nowhere near similar).  I’m notorius for saying, “Oh yeah, like this one time when I…”  or “When I was in college…” or “When I was your age…” (usually that one comes out in the presence of my youth group kids).  It wouldn’t surprise me if any one of those phrases instantly cues somebody to put on that filter that reduces everything that follows to “blah blah blah blah-dy blah-dy blah blah…” Who am I kidding?  Most of the time, my “life experience” pales in comparison to the people I’m talking to.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  There are a few things I am not saying:

  1. I am not saying that life experience isn’t important.
  2. I am not saying that my life experience isn’t valuable enough to share with people.
  3. I am not saying that I don’t have any life experience.

Rather, I’m beginning to realize some things:

  1. There is an appropriate time to keep my mouth shut and just listen to the life experience of others and learn from it rather than feeling the need to interject with some story from my own life that is probably completely unrelated.
  2. For as much life experience as I think I have, I still have so much to learn and experience in life… after all, I’m only 24 years old – I’m still a youngster compared to many of the folks I keep company with.
  3. I hope that 25 years from now I have the same patience to listen to the life experience of a 25 year old as many people have had with me.

Just some thoughts I’ve been having lately.  Hopefully they’re at least somewhat coherent.  What value do you place on life experience?  Are you guilty of being too arrogant about your own?  Do you value the life experience of those younger than you? …older?

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Well, the time is upon us: reflection on another year gone by, resolutions for the year to come.  It seems that every year is momentous, filled with joy and sorrow and significant change – 2008 has been no different.  I can hardly remember the final days of 2007 – it seems like my life now is so far removed from where it was just a year ago.  So much has changed, and yet so much feels exactly the same.

It seems as though it were just yesterday when I drove back to Fremont after spending a week in Cleveland for the Christmas holiday, returning to a community that I had grown to love and a job that I had grown to love even more.  I spent the winter and spring diving deeper into my position as Director of Youth & Education Ministries at Grace Lutheran Church in Fremont, Ohio and embracing all the opportunities that youth ministry provides–lock-ins, a children’s ministry conference in Chicago, the annual youth dinner auction, the joys of hosting groups of youth in my tiny apartment for lunch and Bible study after church on Sundays during Lent, and the celebration at the beginning of June of surviving my first year in congregational youth ministry.

In May I enjoyed a brief respite from the always-busy youth ministry schedule as I traveled with my sister, Kristen to Nashville, TN for a few days.  It was a nice way to break up the transition from school-year ministry to summer ministry as I prepared for a summer that would bring about a number major life changes.

As the seasons changed from spring to summer, some significant events and difficult decisions brought some major changes in my own life.  The catalyst of these changes was my long-awaited engagement to Scott on June 14, 2008 when he proposed to me at Mentor Headlands Beach during a weekend trip home to Mayfield.  The month that followed was quite the whirlwind as I took a group of Jr. High youth to the ALIVE festival, spent a week leading music and directing Vacation Bible School and spent two incredible weeks on Spoke Folk with a group of Sr. High youth from Grace.  Along with the joy and excitement of summer ministry, that month included the difficult decision to resign my position at Grace Lutheran Church in Fremont and accept a part-time position at Parma Lutheran Church in Parma, Ohio so that I could move home to the Cleveland area to be near Scott and allow time for grad school and planning a wedding.

At the end of July I moved back in with my parents and began my part-time position as Director of Youth & Young Adult Ministries at Parma Lutheran Church.  Scott and I began the process of wedding planning and are now looking forward to September 12, 2009 when we will join our hearts as one in marriage.  In October I began full-time studies at Ashland Theological Seminary where I will spend the next three years pursuing my Masters of Divinity degree.

Since starting seminary in October I have enjoyed the fast-paced life of being a full-time student and part-time youth minister.  I’ve enjoyed the many opportunities that I’ve had to settle into my position at PLC through various youth and church-wide events–a fall sr. high retreat, a service trip to Redeemer Crisis Center in Cleveland, and a Christmas lock-in event.

Now that I’ve reflected on the past year, it’s time to start looking ahead.  Resolutions, anyone?

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