Faith Formation in Times Like These
God literally shines through darkness in a collaborative piece of art we created with Nicole Farley of A New Creation on our recent youth retreat. Over several weeks the youth discussed who God is and who God is not. The conversation about who God is not turned out to be far more powerful than I expected.
When I asked youth to write words describing who God is not, the words racist, violent, bully, death, and greedy were at the top of the list. These are challenges our youth frequently face. Images representing who God is not were then drawn onto Plexiglas with permanent marker.
Who is God? God is love, the Creator, generous, a loving mother (or father), God is light, life, and our rock. These brightly painted images shine through the Plexiglas – showing that God is more powerful than sin and evil. In the noise and chaos of the world, our youth have created a visual representation of the root of our hope.
Below is the email I sent to parents this week, which explains the importance of youth group and faith formation grounded in the knowledge of who God truly is. I could not be more grateful for our youth and children, who keep me grounded in what is important…
When tragedy strikes, as it seems to do very often lately, it is hard to know what to do as a parent. While I have a list of helpful resources posted on my blog, I want to say a word about faith in the face of violence and disaster. I want to share the reasons WHY what we do at NUMC matters enough to get out of bed and wrangle the children on Sunday morning.
I don’t presume to know why bad things happen or why evil exists, but I do know that HOPE is what enables me to move forward. From the first words in the Bible, the stories of creation, we see that God created this world, and the people in it, for good. Throughout the Bible we read story after story of God overcoming evil by love. In Christ we see that God is more powerful than anything – even death.
Hope has two parts. First, hope comes from imagining of the restoration of all things for Gods good purposes- for the earth to be as it is in heaven. Second, hope comes from participating in the good things God is doing here and now. Though tragedy makes headlines, each day regular people are doing their part, empowered by the Holy Spirit, to bring God’s vision to the present moment.
If there is one thing I want children and youth to walk away with on Sunday mornings, it is HOPE that God is both willing and able to restore this world. I apologize that it often takes a tragedy to get real about why faith formation, grounded in hope, is vitally important to navigating this complicated world. If you would like to talk more about hope, faith formation, or resources for helping children through trauma, I am available.
May God bless you and strengthen you in your parenting,