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According to Staci...

Tuesday
Nov252014

The Advent of Hope

As a frequent reader of blogs regarding faith and spiritual formation, The Actual Pastor by Steve Wiens if one of my favorites.  In light of current events and the heralding season of Advent I was moved by his post today. I am happy to share it........

How Are the Children?  Written by Steve Wiens

http://www.stevewiens.com/

When people of the Masai tribe in Kenya greet each other, they ask a question: Kasserian Ingera?   It simply means, How are the children?

This reflects a deeply held cultural value that everybody’s well being is inextricably linked to the current well being of the children.  So, America: How are the children?Michael Brown wasn’t one of their children, he was one of our children. As we weep with those who weep, and as Ferguson burns in a cauldron of anger that could lead to hopelessness, we need to remember it’s not out their issue, it’s our issue.  What will happen if we don’t turn our attention to the well being of our children?

Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

The text that I’ll be preaching this weekend, the first week in Advent, is from Psalm 80, which is a communal lament. Give ear to us, Lord. Restore us, oh God. Awakenyour might. Let your face shine upon us. No matter what you think about the grand jury’s decision in Ferguson last night, it is a fitting text for the lament that is being expressed all over America right now.

In Psalm 80, the community of God gives an angry shout to the God who seems absent, indifferent to their suffering. They are shaking their fists to a God they’re not even sure is listening. But here’s the shocker: they engage God anyway. Even though they fear that God is absent, they seem to simultaneously believe that if anyone can restore hope and light and life, God can.  When we are painfully aware of our need for God to arrive in our world again to restore that which has gone horribly wrong, we are experiencing the season of Advent.

We are all collectively afraid (remember that fear can show up as explosive anger or stony silence). We’re confused and we don’t know what to do. I don’t have a lot of words this morning. I am sad and upset. It’s hard to do the small things that today requires.  There will be a lot of noisy words today, and in the days to come, but here are mine anyway:

Weep with those who weep.

Listen to your black brothers and sisters; they are expressing a generational lament, one that includes, but goes way farther back than a grand jury’s decision last night. Enter into the lament. It’s really not just theirs, but ours.

See to the well being of the children.

And cry out – loudly – to the God who actually can restore us, and save us.

Come, Lord Jesus. We wait for you.


Tuesday
Oct282014

God is There.....Helping Children and Teens Cope

In response to parents' inquiries on how to help ourselves and our children and youth process the recent school shooting in Marysville, I've reposted an article I wrote 2 years ago when the Sandyhook school shooting took place.  Sadly, the information is still relevant and necessary.   

It is never an inappropriate time to take to heart how to help perpare our children and youth to cope with the fear and insecurity any tragedy brings.  Whether close to home or across the world. This article is only a faithful starting point.  If you have a need for more direction or resources, please contact me directly.  -Staci

God of our strength, calm our hearts when fear abounds.  Calm our hearts so we can hold to Your ways, Your truth, and Your Life.   You God are always near.  Amen

 

Wednesday
Sep172014

Change Begins with Realization

During Sunday's Youth Group gathering, the youth and I viewed a popular YouTube video making it's way virally around Facebook and other social media.  

'Why I Think This World Should End' is the spoken word poem of Prince Ea.  Possessing a great song writing ability, Prince Ea combines creative, thought-provoking verses with humor, wit, passion and hard hitting punch-lines. From his YouTube videos, which have garnered over ten million hits, Prince Ea has developed a loyal Internet fan base.  One could easily think of his craft as modern day Psalm writing......a poem, verse, lament, or song that is moving, meaning filled, prayerful and deeply passionate.

As the youth listened, I asked them to respond prayerfully to a few prompts: 

What is one thing you feel powerless to change?  

What is one thing you truly love about yourself? 

Feel free to view the video as you consider these same questions.  (The youth responses follow)

 

 

The following are the responses from some of our youth: 

What is one thing you feel powerless to change?  

Poverty, Social Popularity,  How our country treats other countries, My own selfishness, Peoples narrow mindedness, Hatred, Corruption, Dishonesty, Hatered between Faiths, the Government, Loneliness, Fear. 

What is one thing you truly love about yourself?

My positivity, My creativity, How I much I love my family, I'm honest, I know my weaknesses, I'm accepting of others differences, I don't need make-up to feel beautiful, I'm a good friend to others, I have a good mind, I try to be helpful, I'm a good leader. 

The youths' converstation then took this shape:  Perhaps change begins with realization... in order to stop hurting (ourselves and one another) we ourselves need to heal. We begin to heal (ourselves and Humanity) when we are made known of our own worthiness.  Perhaps, pain is sometimes inflicted by 'hurting people' who 'hurt people' because they feel they have no worth or hope.

Prince Ea reminds us, the world will change with love.  Our love-of-self  is made manifest in our loving actions towards our world and it's people.  God's people.  

What is one thing YOU feel powerless to change and what is the one thing YOU truly love about yourself that will help you find the power to begin creating a new world? 

 

 

Tuesday
Jun172014

A Year in the RBCC Neighborhood!

Our RBCC Kids and Youth lead a wonderfully spontaneous, sincere, and blessedly imperfect worship service this last Sunday.  They all sang with joy, read with confidence, prayed with child-like sincerity, spoke about their spirituality with self-confidence, and helped us all worship in new and different ways.  

As with all things, we can't often control how the Spirit leads us.....it is our willingness to get uncomfortable, be silly and not afraid of the imperfect or messy, that leads us into new directions of growing in faith and relationship to one another.   

Below is the wonderful slide show of our year in the RBCC Neighborhood.  Not all were able to see it on Sunday. (when it was working!) I share it with you now and hope it brings a smile to your face.  

We are a truly a Spirit lead and blessed community of children, youth, and adults!  Enjoy!

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Wednesday
Mar262014

Wikipedia, Google, Nicodemus and You. 

Each Sunday, I am in awe of the depth of thought in the heart and minds of our youth.  I cherish the opportunities I have to talk out, soak in, wrestle with, and break down the stories of our faith as read in the bible. Two Sunday's ago, with the best of intentions, I  attempted to lead a meaningful discussion with our teens. And yet, in the end, it was me that had been led in new directions by their wisdom.

Our discussion came from the story of Jesus and Nicodemus. (or as young, smiley Wesley broke it down during children's time...Nick and Demus.) The youth and I gathered in the coffee shop and discussed why had this story been written down for us to read at a later date.  What is it's importance?  What is one truth we can carry away with us?  We shared about our 'Big Questions' in life and the courage it takes to ask them, like it might have for Nicodemus.  (John 3:1-17)

Now, I believe it is part of my job, to know and understand the days and times that our youth live in. But I was not prepared for the answers and new direction of our conversation.  I simply asked the teens sitting with me, 'Who do you go to when you need to ask the 'Big Questions'?  Silly me, I was expecting replies of mom, dad, school counselor, friend......or maybe even me!  I was sadly, way off the mark for their life and times.  They surprised me with the answers of Wikipedia, Google, the Internet, the library, and by text. Wow!  I was taken by surprise by that thought. That the go-to people for our youth, aren't even people. I discovered from them, that there is no fear or embarrassment, no judgement, and no eye contact when seeking answers from the internet. But there is also, no conversation, no heart, no emotion, no compassion or understanding.  

Their conclusion for why the story of Nicodemus had been recorded, was Jesus' example that our faith is made to be carried out in relationship with each other.  That we need to be in relationships that are open, respectful and trusting in order to ask our deep questions.  The truth that I was surprised to take away, is that our youth don't have as many open, respectful, and trusting relationships as you might think. Especially with adults (who are not their parents).  Especially in their faith communities.  

If we are to increase the likelihood that children and teens continue to grow in faith and remain connected to a faith community beyond their high school years, we need to have the courage of Nicodemus to seek out relationships of faith with our community of children and youth.  And like Jesus, to be open, respectful, and trusting adults for our children and youth as they grow in life and faith as part of our faith community.

We can do this by becoming more hospitable with our children and youth.  It may be as simple as just learning their names, so that you can greet them and call them by name.  Then help them learn your name.  

Share your story.  Let go of the 'faith is private' mindset.  Volunteer to be a confirmation mentor for one of our teenagers in the fall.  Be seekers together.

Volunteer to lead a few Sunday's of Sunday School where you can learn new ways to pray with, share and practice faith with young people.   I can equip you with tools and training to be successful at it.  I encourage you to learn alongside our children by asking questions and wondering with them rather than trying to come up with the right answers.  

We can recognize that all of us have different learning styles, different life experiences, different gifts and passions, and different ways of experiencing the sacred. If we put the focus on our relationships and on our children and youth rather than programs themselves (such as Sunday school) we can see a new way to be empowered to grow in our own faith as well.  Volunteer to be on a journey of faith for a few Sunday's this coming year!  You might be surprised at the invigoration of your own faith.

I hope we can focus on helping every person in our RBCC community take the next step that leads to a transformed life - a new way of being and doing.  A cross-generational community of faith where all ages grow in faith and spirituality.  Both in and out of the sanctuary.  Both in and out of the Sunday school room.  Both in and out of the youth room.  Both in and out of our church walls.

My faith has been and is continuing to be transformed by the wisdom and love that comes from spending time with our children and youth.  I hope the same for all of us in this beautiful faith community that is Richmond Beach Congregational United Church of Christ. 

If you have questions about ways you can be a part of a newly fortified cross-generational faith community......I hope you will have the courage of Nicodemus and ask.  


 

 

 

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