We changed up our schedule a lot this week. It did not follow the chronology of the ecclesial method exactly. However, I think it is good to change it up every once in a while so the youth don’t get too used to the night and get bored.
Psalm 103:13-17; 119:103
Genesis 3:19; 18:27
Preparation: We had the youth meet in the gym instead of the Catacombs. This allowed us more time for our closing prayer activity. In the gym the youth played a classic game of dodgeball. As more kids arrived we made sure to assign them to a team. Halfway through we stopped the game and reassigned teams because many of the youth who came after we started the game tended to stay on the sidelines rather than jump into the game.
I had a mentor read the Gospel for this coming Sunday as our opening prayer prior to my talk.
Proclamation: We are not called to sacrifice during Lent for the sake of sacrifice; we sacrifice out of our love for God.
Explanation: I told the story of how my mom quit her job when my brother and I were little. Her job wanted to transfer further south which would mean a longer commute and less time with us. She sacrificed so much in order to love my brother and I more. That is the same kind of sacrifice we are called to do during Lent. We sacrifice in order to love God more.
Application: We had small groups at the beginning of the night where our mentors discussed prayer, fasting and almsgiving and how the youth can practice these during Lent.
Celebration: We had prayer stations after the talk. Some of the stations came from Lifeteen’s Life Night for Lent and included reading of scripture and prayer. The first station was the reading of Isaiah 40:3-5. The second station was an opportunity for the youth to taste vinegar, reflection on the bitterness of sin and honey, reflection on the sweetness of God’s promises. For the third station I burned paper in a metal bowl and reflected on how God refines us as gold in fire. The fourth station was a bowl of ashes and the youth were invited to come and feel the ashes in their fingers reflecting on our mortality and sinfulness. For the final station we had black wrist bands with the word “sacrificium.” They have commitment cards with them: one for the youth to keep to remind them of the ways they can sacrifice during Lent and the other one to sign as a promise to God and place at the food of the altar in a basket we provided. Once they did this they then lit a tea candle as a reminder that after the desert of Lent comes the new dawn of Easter.
Moment of Growth (I am a firm believer in the moments that we mess up are for learning not beating ourselves up so instead of naming this title ‘Ways I fail in life and youth ministry’ I instead named it ‘Moments of Growth’): For some reason it was very difficult for me to prepare this night in advance. I found myself throwing a lot of it together the day of. Because of this, the prayer stations were not completely thought out logistically. During our mentor meeting prior to youth group the high school mentors brought up a lot of questions concerning how it was going to work. Thanks to their input we were able to adjust it resulting in a great prayer experience.
Also, because I was rushed in planning I forgot to make sure we had prayerful music during the stations so as the youth were participating we had silence, which was nice on one hand but also a little awkward.
Thank you Lord for opportunities to grow in humility.
Favorite Moment: During small groups we asked each group to come up with a 30 second commercial for Lent. I am constantly amazed at the creativity and depth some of our youth go to. They were really funny and everyone had a blast.I was also really thankful for how well the prayer stations went. I believe that most of the youth are not going to be called to conversion through my talks but through an encounter with God through prayer. I make it one of my goals to create opportunities for those encounters throughout our youth nights and retreats.
If you would like me to send you a detailed copy of this night email me at Patrick.Meleney@gmail.com