YOM News: a Faithful Start to a New School Year
I hope that you have all had a fun, relaxing and safe summer. I know we all needed that time to decompress from such a mentally and emotionally demanding spring.
The school year has begun, and I know it is bringing its share of challenges to everyone. Whether your teens are in school in masks with social distancing precautions or if they're at home learning virtually, I just want you to know I am praying for all of you. I know that neither of those scenarios feel "normal" to your teens, and many of them probably feel they are missing out on many of the opportunities that middle school and high school have to offer.
While I can't help to bring back sports and other social activities, I can offer help and resources to keep our teens spiritually strong. It is more important than ever during these uncertain times that we rely on the steady and unchanging word of God so that we can show our youth how God's love is a constant guiding force to help us navigate life.
I wanted to share with you a devotion that's part of a weekly discipleship practice called "Faith at Home". I will provide a link if anyone would like to do this practice at home with your teens. The one particular reflection I would like to share with you stems from the verse Romans 13:8-10:
8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. 9 The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,”[a] and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”[b] 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
Reflection: When I read Paul’s words, I’m reminded that humanity stands at the center of love and mercy toward others, for “the one who loves another has fulfilled the law” (Romans 13:8, NRSV). I think about how much it matters when someone not only learns but remembers my name, just as I remember how loved I feel when a friend asks me questions and genuinely wants to engage with me in conversation. After all, I am not seen as a problem, but like the human being I already am and always have been. How then might I engage in this same kind of love and mercy to everyone around me?
Response: All of us experience love in different ways (hence, perhaps why Gary Chapman’s The 5 Love Languages continues to top bestseller lists), but the command to love your neighbor as yourself is pretty simple. As you go throughout your week, reach out to one person a day. Pick up the phone or shoot them a text. Reach out over social media or pop a handwritten note in the mail. Your words can be as simple as, “Hey, I just wanted to let you know that I was thinking about you,” or “You just came to mind, and friend, you are loved.” At the end of this week, see how this simple exercise in showing love and mercy toward others changes you as well.
- Cara Meredith
I think this message is so important for us and for our teens right now. The response that Cara Meredith gives highlights simple actions we can all continue to do while social distancing.
Here is a link to the weekly devotions if you would like to do them at home with your teens: https://www.dofaithathome.org/
Come fall I would really like to see everyone's face, whether it be virtually or in person. I would like to find safe ways that we can join together to show love to others and strengthen our faith. I'm hoping we can talk more about this together to come up with some plans that allow us all to feel safe and comfortable.
I would also love it if you could all share with me something you did over the summer-even better if you can include a photo! I would like to compile them and send them to the group so we can all see what our families have been up to. I thought it would be a good jumping point to get us all back together so we can talk about what's ahead.
As you all begin to navigate this new school year I wanted to share with you a simple formula I found, on a website called Fervr, for praying with your teen before the start of school. You can pray with your teen or share this formula with them to help them start their days. For anyone who is interested, I can also provide this as a printout to be hung on the fridge, in the bedroom or by a workspace! Please reach out if you would like one!
1. Give thanks
Think about your life and all the good things God has given you. Thank Him for these things.
Thank God that you are able to go to school to learn and grow as a person. With almost 60 million children around the world who don't have access to education, give thanks that you do.
Thank God for Jesus and for his death and resurrection that mean you are forgiven and have eternal life (it helps put small school problems into perspective!).
2. Pray for yourself
Ask God to help you be a shining light for Him in your school today.
Ask Him for strength to do the right thing and to live in a way that pleases Him.
Ask Him to help you treat teachers and other students with love and respect.
3. Pray for someone else
Think of someone — a friend, enemy or someone you don't yet know very well —and ask that they will come to know Jesus.
If you find someone difficult to deal with at school, pray that you will have patience with them & be able to love them.
If you know someone going through a difficult time, pray that you can get alongside them and show them God's love in action.
Pray that God will give you an opportunity to share what you believe with someone today.
Finally, I would like to remind everyone that we are a group brought together by our common love and desire to follow God. Please do not hesitate to reach out if you or your teen are struggling or need to talk. I will be sending out a text to the teens(if your teen is not on my text list and would like to be, please send me his/her number). I would like to compile a list of numbers, because I will be encouraging the YOMS to text the other members of the group to check in. It would be really awesome if some of our older members could keep in touch with our younger members in an effort to mentor them and keep them wanting to be involved. I'll start by compiling phone numbers and encouraging the teens through a group text.
Thank you everyone for your continued patience and flexibility during this time. I pray that we are able to stay strong as a group and continue to guide our youth in the ways of Jesus Christ despite the challenges placed before us.
I look forward to talking to you all soon.