I have to be honest with you all, "Youth Sunday" services drive me bonkers.
Forgive the rantiness but here is why . . .
First, not all young people are the same. Yet when we think of "Youth Sunday" we think of fun, upbeat, energetic worship as if we can put any young person up they and they can perform like circus monkeys to make the rest of us feel good about including young people in worship. I don't think so. Just ask yourself, "What if youth Sunday was EXACTLY like every other Sunday?" Folks would wonder why there is even a "Youth Sunday" if it's going to be the same as every year. As they should, Youth do not perform for us.
But . . . youth need to be included in worship and this is the only way it will happen!
Yes, of course they do and I totally feel for those of you in congregations steeped in the "Youth Sunday" culture, but this is simply NOT okay IMHO. If we expect young people to develop a sense of worship and if we REALLY want young people involved in worship, shouldn't they be part of worship through the year? I think so.
Now please do not get me wrong, like so many traditions, I think we engage in "Youth Sunday" with the best of intentions. I assume that the intent and motivations behind "Youth Sunday" are two fold: one, we want an occasional service that is more "spirited" than normal and, two, we want young people to be involved in worship.
So here is what I would suggest:
If you want young people to really be engaged in worship, have them take part in the service of worship EVERY Sunday as you would with anyone. They are worship leaders who happen to be young. Honor their stage of life and gifts, sure, but also acknowledge their equality in helping the people of God worship together.
And of you want to have a service that is "Youthful" do just that. Now a "Youthful Sunday" I can get behind as long as it is really about stepping outside of ways that the community may normally worship AND it is planned and lead not only by youth, but by the fullness of the congregation, the young and the not-so-young.
Okay, now surely folks can add some nuance to my rant, but let me know if am I off here?
I also know that some of you have broken this cycle, so please do tell how you did it!
After driving a bunch of middle schoolers to their outdoor ed site, I took some time to take a walk around the Marin Headlands. A cool, misty morning with the sun slowing peeking its way out. Beautiful.
I do believe in all the years that I have been blogging and over-sharing with the world, this is first time I have every shared a recipe. Now it is not like I do not cook, because I can hold my own in the kitchen wandering through a variety of genres: Filipino, Chinese MEAT. But, aside from an occasional civiche or beef stroganoff from 1979 Edition of San Francisco a la Carte, I am generally one of those "cook by feel" kinda guys.
With that in mind, over the past year I have developed a taste for Bloody Mary Mix and have begun tasting it throughout my travels. As I have learned people's preferences about their Bloody Mary Mix: how thick, how spicy and how chewy as I have developed my own. So after hearing about a few tricks, I decided to try my own concoction.
1 can (46 oz.) Tomato Juice
2 tsp Prepared Horse Radish
1 tsp Finely Chopped Garlic
2 tsp Celery Salt
1/2 tsp Sea Salt
2 tsp Tabasco or other Hot Sauce
1-2 tsp Mixed Seasoning (Bay, Dash, etc.)
1 Tbsp A-1 or other Steak Sauce
3 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
4 Tbsp Beef Broth
2 Tbsp Fresh Lemon Juice
Optional: minced onion or celery for texture.
Mix it all together
Okay, so there you have it. Let me know what you think or if you have any tweaks that you think would be interesting to try.
This past week I took part in a series of meetings that lead to the laying off of many people in the national offices of the denomination to which I belong, the Presbyterian Church (USA). While the situation leading up to these decisions and the process itself have been complicated, it is painfully clear that this has been a difficult time for many people on many levels. With so many, I grieve and pray for the people that lost their jobs, their families as well as those still working and serving faithfully. [Press Release]
As I was sitting through this meeting and have been mulling this over, I am again bolstered in my belief that we are in a time of transition like we have never known. At levels of society from civic groups to churches to government it does not take a bunch of studies for us to know that if we are going to truly thrive into the future, the ways in which we engage the world and one another have got to change.
While it would be easy for any of us to think that our particular institutions are in a unique situation when it comes to how "we do business," I have sat in too many meetings where the same exact responses occur. Be they community groups, churches or local government we cling to the mindset of "if we just do what we do better or more efficiently" it will all be okay. I just don't believe it will. Technical fixes no longer adequately address the rapidly changing ways engage the world, but we have yet to figure out what to do. Tinkering and restructuring a system that has lost cultural relevance only leads to a constant cycle of failure, despair and loss of influence. Our time is sucked up by reacting to the traumas that are caused by cultural shifts around us instead of being out in front of social trends in a way that we can the inform the evolution of culture. We need to be doing more of the shaping rather than always feeling like we are being shaped against our will.
Crap. So now what?
Now we could certainly give up in disgust, check out and do so blaming the evils of the "the institution" . . . forgetting that many of us ARE the institution somewhere, somehow. A cowardly and easy way out, IMNSHO..
We could actively work for the destruction of said institution for destruction's sake. Not my style as I just can't get up the energy to try and take down the sweet old lady who has been running our neighborhood association FOREVER.
Or we can embrace a challenge that we are facing and dive in. For if we do not begin to live into these grand legacies that have formed us, we turn our back on so many who have worked and served in the hopes that the future would indeed be brighter. Don't we now owe that to those who come next? I think I'll choose this option.
First what we must do is ask ourselves soul searching questions about our very existence. What would happen if we simply let things go? And I am not talking about letting go in some metaphorical or ethereal sense, but really letting go. Let go of the security of our structures, the confines of our finances and the stifling nature of wanting to survive. What is the worst that can happen? The worst thing that could happen is that we discover - or realize - that for the most part, we would not be missed. This would be sad, of course, but at least we would know and would be given permission to stop. And then . . . now this is where life could get really interesting. No longer being fueled by our own delusions of grandeur, the best thing that could happen is that we are given permission to focus all of our energy and expertise towards discovering what may be, rather than propping up and dressing up what was. With a sense of possibility, grounded and formed by where we have been, we take on the privilege and challenge of birthing new life and we collectively become transformed.
Now again, I do not pose these questions lightly oblivious to real life issues and ramifications. Quite the contrary, I ask these questions with a deep commitment to honor those community groups, churches and organizations that have formed me and the communities in which I have lived and served. I know that asking these kinds of questions with an eye towards action opens up a whole range of possibilities and complications that certainly will include death. But lets be honest for most of our beloved organizations of the past, the current cycle of joyless rearranging of our communal lamenting is not working. So rather than avoid the conversation, lets invite the discourse into our midst. Lets talk with one another and trust that there is enough passion, wisdom and care that we can enter into these conversations with integrity . . . because if there is not enough integrity present to ask these questions, why on earth would we think our future is going to get any better?
Now what this looks like will certainly different depending on your context: church, not-for-profit, government, etc. but the questions in the same, "What would happen if we simple let go?"
So please share your stories, blog a bit about your "Letting Go" struggles or successes and lets see where this may lead.
So . . . this past week I finally got a label maker. Don't laugh . . . and yes, I brought it on my trip with me. So, I'm thinking that if I label something then I can control its whereabouts. Huh, sorta like what we want to do with one another during our political conversations.
“Peace it does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.”
Thank to all who have asked for this. This is a compilation of many different benedictions that I have heard throughout the years, no originality claimed, just some great opportunities to share it.
Go forth into the world
With compassion and justice in your heart
Give voice to the silent
Give strength to the weak
See one another
Hear one another
Care for one another
And love one another
It's all that easy
And it's all that hard
Now may the grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ
The love of God
And the power of the Holy Spirit
Be with us all, now and forever more