Thursday, December 8, 2016

Advent Needs

At CYM last night, the youth focused on readying their hearts. 'Tis the season, after all.

{Background: Jonathan and I lead the Catholic Youth Ministry at our church. We have been part of this ministry since 2010. We love these kids, and we enjoy getting to know them and getting to know Christ through them. Carry on.}

We're halfway through Advent, so discussion centered around awaiting the precious 8-pound, 6-ounce Baby Jesus, as well as staying awake for His return. One of my favorite ways to encourage these kids to get closer to Christ is through creative prayer stations. Last night's areas were called preparation stations, because I do enjoy a good rhyme. The one that stuck out the most to me {and ended up being the most well-received} was the simplest.

This station was located in a dark room with a long table. On the table were several unlit tealight candles and four words: Hope, Peace, Love, and Joy. The kids were asked to think about which of these four gifts they need most. Once they landed on one, they were to light a candle, place it next to the word, and pray for guidance. They were also asked to notice where the other youth placed candles to visualize the needs of others.

As I approached the table and made my way between the kids, I picked up a candle without hesitation. I know what my heart needs this Advent. I need peace.

I have so much love from the people around me, I rejoice in the coming of our Savior, and I'm hopeful when I think about where my life will go from here. What I don't have in my heart, my head, and often my faith is peace.

Reasoning: I have kids. I have three kids. I have three kids who can't go for two minutes without requesting my presence. I have three kids whose needs I constantly juggle, often to the detriment of my brain. "If he says 'chocolate milk' one more time I'm going to snap..." I know this is the norm for parents, but I crave peace.

I need peace in the constant worry that sticks in the back of my mind. I need peace in knowing I do the right thing. I need peace in knowing I am good enough. Most importantly, though, I need peace in knowing God is with me.

One point of note is the most popular need among the teens: love. When I saw the light emanating in front of the word Jesus Himself said was His greatest commandment, I saw how easy it is to make a difference. We just have to love. We have to love all of our neighbors, and we have to love others as sacrificially as Jesus loves us.

This post is all over the place, but I think I can carve out a moral for you. This Advent season, focus on preparing your own heart, but don't forget about your fellow man {and woman and child}. Love one another, celebrate others' joy, make peace, and provide hope. Jesus brings light to the world, but you could be the light for someone else.

Now it's your turn. Which of these four gifts do you think you need most?

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Georgeanne @ Southern Fried Soprano said...

Did you come up with that prayer station yourself? That truly is a creative and beautiful (not to mention simple!) way to invite reflection. Advent can become such a... production. But it's really about this one simple gift.

I think the thing I need the most right now, too, is peace. Peace with myself. Peace with the current moment. Just understanding that it is okay to be where I am. I am enough where I am.

Jessica Bauer said...

Believe me, Georgeanne, the Internet plays a heavy hand in our ministry. Usually I find ideas that inspire me and tweak them to work best for us. :) Peace in the moment without constantly looking ahead is a big challenge for me this time of year, too!

Grace Grits and Gardening said...

I love the prayer station too! Can I choose a little of each???