As we enter into our theme of Sustainable Youth Ministry this month, I find it interesting that it is also colliding with the Church season of Pentecost.
The story of Pentecost always memorized (and terrified) me as a little girl. Tongues of fire, wind howling–the Spirit’s presence comes. This Spirit transformed floundering fishermen and bumbling disciples to preachers and prophets. Voices were found, gifts were transformed, courage, boldness, and power discovered. The Church birthed.
In sum, Pentecost brings life. But life comes through fire and wind. Growth comes out of the friction of heat and swirling of wind. Both fire and wind refine in their own way, consuming or shaking loose those things which are not essential, making room for the Spirit’s re-creating presence.
Even Moses, who first discovered this God-Presence as a burning bush. On fire but not consumed. Ready with the call to reclaim life to God’s people.
In Exodus 3, where Moses encounters this peculiar bush, it reads, “Then Moses said, ‘I must turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why the bush is not burned up.’ When the Lord saw that he had turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, ‘Moses, Moses!'”
Notice that before God speaks, God waits for Moses to notice God’s presence. This is an important characteristic of God: God chooses to patiently wait for us.
Friends, our lives as youth workers are busy. We often feel the heat of the burn(out), as opposed to the heat of the Spirit’s flame. There are schedules to keep, programs to run, volunteers to coordinate, youth to manage. But sustainable youth ministry starts with us. It begins by us slowing down and taking notice. It starts with us lingering to see where God is already blazing in our life and work. As we “turn aside” (take notice) those burning bushes are in our own lives and remember again that God is near, new life blooms.
Perhaps that is why the color of this season following Pentecost is green, the color often associated with life and growth. “Green signals health and the presence of the invisible but powerful forces at work bringing earth to harvest. So with the fruit of faithfulness; It grows daily, unremarkably, into a harvest of abundant life for all of God’s people” (Susan Blain, Imaging the WORD, 21).
That is why the spiritual formation element of The Gathering Place is central. We must tend to ourselves if we hope to tend to the faith in our youth. Utilize the resources available to you here: spiritual direction, retreat, contemplation via art.
Let The Gathering Place help you find that space to ‘turn aside’ and take notice.