Sunday, November 23, 2008

Out with the Old

Today we, Catholics and those that follow a similar lectionary cycle, celebrate Christ the King Sunday.  This feast is the end of each liturgical year.  Next Sunday begins Advent and the anticipation for Christmas, and the new liturgical year.  

With tonight's youth group taking a sort of "new year's" perspective and the shift in the liturgical cycle, I really feel the newness coming.  December is fairly lightweight as the youth ministry bows to the pressures of other parish events, school vacations, and the festivities of the Holy Days and holidays.

I will escape to Cleveland for several days to the NCCYM and NCYAMA conferences.  This will be a chance to get new ideas on youth and young adult ministry, search out new resources, and share stories (good and bad) with others in similar ministry positions.  This will be my third NCCYM conference and I am looking forward to it.

I also am looking to the new year, calendar wise, as we will begin working on several major projects and continue developing others in greater detail.  There will be our parish common conference.  A parish youth retreat, a joint (4 or more parish) youth retreat, a girls retreat, a young adult retreat, a state Catholic Young Adult Conference, Sunday night youth groups, Bible studies, young adult nights, a trip to Honduras, and the initial plans for World Youth Day 2011. 

I find though, that much like I do when the year changes on January 1, that my outward plans are tempered by a bit of introspection.  Knowing what is all on my plate and recognizing the challenges that those events pose, I am trying to make some spiritual resolutions - prayer time, fun time, and just me time.   Those ideas got pushed to the side, slowly but surely, over the past several weeks.  

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Iron Man

I thought I'd post a youth group night that worked well.  I passed it on to another CYM who tweaked it and had a successful night with it.

7:00 to 7:20 Opening Activity
7:20 to 7:45 Iron Man clips & discussion
7:45 to 8:00 Prophets of a Future Not Our Own Discussion
8:00 to 8:20 Finishing the opening activity
8:20 to 8:45 Tale of Three Trees reflection and prayer


Cut outs in the shape of people; markers; pens; Bibles, copy of Iron Man (2008); copy of The Tale of Three Trees; candle.

Based off of Matthew 25.14-30

Opening Activity
Everyone gets one of the paper ‘people’ to decorate one side of. Use any of the supplies put out on the table in the back of the room. Please decorate it appropriately. You need to keep the backside clear with no decorations. 

Iron Man Activity
We will watch a clip from chapter 3 of Iron Man. Clip ends when we hear Yinsen say, “This is a very important week, then.”

  • What is going on in this clip?
  • What did the doctor (Yinsen) do for Tony Stark?
  • What are the talents that the two men, Stark and Yinsen, have?
  • What effect did Yinsen have on the world up to this point?
  • What effect did Stark have?
  • Why did Stark refuse to use his talents?
  • What does Stark do with his talents after this last question from Yinsen?
  • Why do or don’t people decide to use their gifts and talents?
  • What effect do we have on others?
  • What can we do when we cause hurt, damage, or suffering?
  • How can we try to use our talents and gifts for good?
  • Why should we try to do good?

"Prophets of a Future Not Our Own" Discussion
Read the quote on the cards.

  • What do you think is the meaning of this?
  • Why do you think it was written?
  • Do you agree with it, why or why not?
  • How do you feel about the idea that “we accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction” of God’s work?
  • Do you think the fact we cannot do everything is liberating?
  • What is the difference between a minister and a messiah?
  • What is it that you think you might be a prophet of?

Finishing the Opening Activity
Now we will finish those little ‘people’ that you begun at the start of the night. For the next several minutes you will have a chance to silently write on the back of each person’s person. You will write a positive note about some talent, gift or positive trait that they have. There will be no commenting out loud or talking in general. (Play quiet, reflective music.) Once everyone is done, make sure people get their own ‘person’ back. Give them a few minutes to read them (silently still).

While they are writing, set up the next clip.

Tale of Three Trees
Before the story, watch the brief clip of Pepper and Tony in his workroom. Begin when she enters, end when he says, “I shouldn’t be alive unless it is for a reason.”

  • Do you think we’re all alive for a reason?
  • Is it the same reason for everyone or do each of us have an individual reason?
  • What do you think that reason is?
  • Where does that reason come from?

Read the storybook, The Tale of Three Trees.

Offer a short reflection on how we all have aspirations to go with our gifts and talents. No matter how disappointed we may be when something goes differently then we would wish, we still have a purpose. There are still good and great things we can do with the blessings we are given.

Read 1 Thessalonians 5.1-6

Instructions: We are children of day. Even when things are challenging or seemingly overwhelming, we are hopeful. We offer our gifts, our talents, and our time to help change that which is negative in our world. As we close, we pass this candle. Please offer one thing that you see as something troubling and also something that gives you hope. Then you pass the candle to the next person.

Now I had a good night with this.  I ended up changing the closing a bit.  Due to discussion, I concentrated on where they had seen light in their lives.  Then I said something to the effect of (after turning all the lights off in the room): "You are the light for others, just as you have mentioned those that have been light for you.  There will be times in your lives when you feel surrounded by darkness.  But just as this candle is brightest in the complete darkness, the light of God that is with you always and the light within others will be strongest at those times.  You only need to turn your face to it.  You are all strong and beautiful souls. Your light is astounding to me and it is my prayer you never forget that."

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

In the Garden

Not long after starting in youth ministry, I was reading an article in either Group Magazine or Youth Works magazine.  I honestly don't know which of the two.  I ran across this advice, "Show them the God of love and joy...'Relish it. Remember it.' They're going to need it someday when it's their turn to pray in the garden [of Gethsemane]."  There are many tidbits of advice, theology, psychology, crowd control, and so on that I routinely remind myself of.  This remains one of the most important in my mind and in practice.

Since reading that, we've had tragedies in the community, in individual lives, and I have seen how powerful those words remain.

Yes, they need to know the morality, the theology, the history.  But they need to know how to not only survive the tragedies of life, but to come out of those Gardens of Gethsemane into the light of the Resurrection.  

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

What's in a Name?

Routinely I am asked by the diocese to do presentations on young adults.  Whether I use the "Theology of the iPod" concept or keep it simple and short, I always end up surprising some people.

What is interesting to me, is how much attention the young adults are getting in the world right now.  And it is positive.  Whatever your personal reaction to the election results are, the young adult vote and what it means became a force in American society that cannot be ignored.

The New York Times offers this article, Generation O.  Much of what the article says about the young adult population is not new; the newness lies in those who are listening.

Young people have the wherewithal, spirit, and desire to change the world for the better.  The question remains for those befuddled, frightened, or ambivalent, will you let them?

The question for churches becomes, will you let them?  

After all, wasn't it a young man, oh about 33, who started this all?