River Youth Group members are invited to a Lunch Outing this Sunday after the First Service.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
By Alison Noll
“40 Days of Faith” has been off to a great start for the Youth Group!
This year, RiverKids and RiverYouth are exploring the theme “The Upside-Down Love of Jesus.” We have been taking a deeper look at Jesus’ love . . . how boundless and radical it is. Because of Jesus’ kind and gentle ways, we often forget how radical his approach to faith and life was. And that’s why people, including his own disciples, were constantly confounded by his words and actions. The world’s understanding of the strong and the weak, the rich and the poor, the greatest and the least, the righteous and the humble, are put upside-down in Jesus’ love.
Here are the topics we have been and will be exploring together:
Each Sunday, we start the discussion time by asking the youth to consider a couple questions in small groups. For example, on the first Sunday of the series we discussed: “Is it better to be weak or strong? Are there times when it helps to be strong and others when it helps to be weak? What does it mean to be strong?”
After the small groups have had time to discuss, we come back together as a large group and the youth share their thoughts and opinions with each other. These discussions have been incredibly lively! Each week I have been so impressed with how engaged the youth are and by their thoughtful, nuanced responses. One youth pointed out, “If you are always strong, then it makes it impossible for you to accept help, which actually makes you weak.” Others pointed out, “When you are strong you are able to help others, but weakness can also make it easier to connect with people.” Amazing!
After everyone has shared, we end the discussion time by hearing a story about Jesus and trying to understand His upside-down perspective on the topic of the week.
If you would like to talk to your youth about the topics we’ve been exploring, feel free to check out the “40 Days” Family Dinner Liturgies. Each Sunday we post a liturgy for the week, which includes that morning’s story. It also includes instructions for a short opening prayer and blessing and a reflection exercise you can do together as a family.
Feel free to reach out to me with any questions/comments/concerns at email@example.com.
During this "40 Days of Faith" (Lent), we encourage you to try the Family Dinner Liturgy once a week. We hope that this will be a fun way to take a moment to turn toward God together as a family. How do you do it? It’s easy.
Family Dinner Liturgy: "The Greatest and the Least"
(Together holding hands)
We make room for you,
Come and fill us with your Spirit.
(Any kind of candles; as many as you want)
(This is worth memorizing. A grown-up can say the blessing as she/he looks into everyone’s eyes OR everyone can recite this together for each other.)
“The Lord bless you
and keep you;
the Lord make His face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn His face toward you
and give you peace.” (Numbers 6:24-26)
Story of the Week | The Greatest and the Least
(Families with young kids might want to skip this part)
It was often hard for Jesus’ followers to understand the Upside-Down Love of God.
One time, some parents brought their children to Jesus so He could touch and bless them. But Jesus’ followers stopped the parents and scolded them for bothering Jesus. They didn’t think the children were important enough for Jesus to spend time with. When Jesus saw what was happening, He said to them, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! God’s Kingdom belongs to those who are like these children. I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive God’s Kingdom like a child will never enter it.” Then He took the children in His arms and placed His hands on their heads and blessed them.
Another time, Jesus’ followers argued about which of them was the greatest and the best. They still didn’t understand Jesus’ Upside-Down Love. Jesus knew what they were thinking and brought a child to His side. Then He said to them, “Anyone who welcomes a little child like this is welcoming me. And whoever welcomes me also welcomes God. So whoever is the least important among you is the most important. Whoever is the smallest among you, love them with the greatest care.”
Jesus also said, “The greatest among you must be a servant.”
Click here for more information about the RiverKids and RiverYouth programs!