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Youth Sunday: Jumping Over the Bar

The youth hosted worship at Tuskawilla Presbyterian Church on Sunday, May 26, 2019.

Christina and I were so happy to see so many of our congregation at both services. It was truly a blessed day and we have received so many kind words both written and spoken. We appreciate your support.

Our initial idea for Youth Sunday came from a series of conversations with Pastor Chris and some of our volunteers/supporters. The idea was to somehow honor our graduating seniors and our youth. Christina and I have been involved planning Youth Sunday at a previous church.

Christina and I immediately saw how a Youth Sunday fit with our current theme. We have been working hard to introduce more mission opportunities into our program.

At the same time, we realized the journey we were about to embark on. We both knew the feeling of staring at a blank PowerPoint or Word document ready to start but where exactly to begin?

TPC Youth SundayOur first step was to talk with the youth.

I don’t remember which Sunday it was, but I remember giving announcements. As the highlights rolled over in my head, I was still formulating what I was going to say. “We are going to do Youth Sunday on May 26.” The words spilled out of my mouth. Immediately I saw a motion out of the corner of my eye. It was Elizabeth; not much gets past her.

Hand up, she says, “Wait, we’re going to do what?”

Christina and I explained we, meaning they, would be planning the service and leading worship at both services. Their eyes were wide.

They quickly realized the gravity of what we were to do and connected the responsibility we had to honor our elders. We reminded them we believed in them and that if they spoke from the heart, God would do the rest.

That same night the youth came up with the theme “The Two Greatest Commandments” and they wanted to focus on honoring their neighbor.

Somehow the light in the room seemed a little brighter. The next Sunday we had four volunteers to speak and everyone pitching in to do readings, special music and a plan to have the youngers help with the offering and candle lighting. I should clarify, youngers is what the youth have come to affectionately call the fifth graders and their siblings.

It was time to start writing prayers, selecting music, and picking readings. We hit a little bit of a creative lull. I remember reminding them that Christina and I were there to provide guidance but they, as a team, were more than capable of doing this without us. We wanted them to be genuine and honest, not to read a script we provided for them.

In discussion they came to some key points:

  1. If we all bear a portion of the load no one was left to carry more than their share. The perfect metaphor for our message.
  2. We have a responsibility to give back to TPC and the larger church. We have the opportunities we do because someone else did it for us.
  3. This was their opportunity to leave their mark at TPC by starting a new tradition.

TPC Youth Sunday preparationFrom that moment forward, the youth had a singularity of focus. Some were apprehensive about speaking in front of the congregation but agreed to do it. Others took more convincing. “At the end of the day,” I told them, “what is most important is that you do it and no matter what we will be proud of you.”

If you missed the service, I’m sorry I don’t have the text of the individual presentations. The courage to be so open and honest was truly inspiring. Maybe we can get them to post their thoughts later.

For those of you who were at the 9 a.m. service, I promise TPC did not teach Harrison to “break into a house.” He clarified in the second service that one of the first mission trips he was on he remembers working at a job site and the homeowners weren’t home. They needed power to run some of their tools. The house was locked but a window was open just enough for someone his size to reach in and plug the extension cord in. He may have been a little nervous.

The youth did such a good job and we are so proud of them. Many in today’s world seek to set the bar low so they can easily step over it. TPC’s youth have set the bar high and I can’t wait to see future Youth Sundays.

Christina and I are so grateful for the love and mentorship we receive, for the love and support we receive, and for the love and community we feel at TPC. We appreciate the space TPC gives to our young people to be who they are and for the love and grace they show each other.

We would like to thank Pastor Chris for being encouraging and most of all faithful in what the youth would present, the congregation for teaching us the importance of community and family, the youth and their families for allowing us in your lives and the acceptance you show us, and we thank God for breathing life into our little group.

After we closed the sanctuary for the day, I thought of the story in Matthew where Jesus walks on water (Matthew 14:22-33).

The disciples find themselves on a boat in the middle of the lake, Jesus had left them to pray. Shortly before sunrise, Jesus walks out on the lake to meet them. In the dim light, the disciples think they have seen a ghost.

Jesus tells them not to be afraid. Peter replies, “Lord, if it is you, tell me to come to you on the water.”

“Come,” he said.

Peter gets out of the boat and walks on the water towards Jesus—that is, until he realizes what he is doing. As Peter begins to sink, he shouts to the Lord for help and Jesus saves him.

This scripture is such a metaphor for my life, my faith journey, and for our ministry. Not that we doubt, but sometimes we can’t see the forest for the trees and the Lord is there to remind us He is here and will always be here.

I tell the story in Matthew to tell you as we walked to the van to go home, I felt like I could jump rope on water! Thank you, TPC.

God is good!

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