As we walk through this season of lent and remember Christ’s work as a human and the saving grace he gave us on Easter, I find it appropriate to look through an additional lens at what we as a church can do with lent. Lent can be described through many of its values, from purification by weaning us from sin and selfishness, through self-denial and prayer, by creating in us a desire to do God’s will more in our lives and so to assist in His kingdom work. In laymen’s terms it is getting our priorities straight, and at least for a season focusing on putting God back where he is supposed to be, first in our hearts, minds, and lives.
I could go on and on about how difficult that process is, or how the reason it is necessary is because we as a culture and even Christians are not good at making it a lifestyle, but that is not what I want to burden or guilt anyone with. Instead, let us focus on what Jesus did in his time here on earth for a moment. I once heard a very strong Christian say, “Show God how much you love Him by loving what He loves.” This strikes me never more squarely between the eyes than when we go out and serve. As I read through the Gospels this lent I can’t help but notice that the most prevalent component in Christ’s ministry was meeting needs. Jesus saw a need and stopped everything else to meet that need. From stopping to heal a bleeding woman while a man he was supposed to go heal passed away, to his giving forgiveness to the lame man for his sins before he even embraced the conversation of physical healing, Jesus met the most immediate needs of the people he encountered.
Six students and two adults went out on Saturday the 15th to put their money where their mouth was. That is, to be followers of Christ by doing what Christ exemplified, loving people and meeting needs. They spent five hours walking around Capitol Hill, Eastern Market, and Union Station with food, drink, and blankets for the homeless men and women who had nowhere else to be but on a sidewalk, park bench, or grassy knoll that afternoon. What the students found is relationship and love, as they chatted, laughed, cried and prayed with the people we went to serve, our way of thinking is challenged. So for lent they left with a challenge, rather than give up something silly for a few weeks, give up your own agenda, and live by the call of “see need, meet need” this Lenten season.
Winter Retreat Recap “Identity Crisis”
Over President’s Day weekend the youth traveled down to Duck, NC for a weekend getaway and refocusing on what being a follower of Christ means, looks like, and calls us to change, reform or give up in our lives in everything from our personal relationship with God, to our actions in life, and how we love and share Christ with those around us every day. The weekend was full of group time hanging out, playing games, seeing the first flight memorial at Kitty Hawk, beach time, and lots of singing and discussion time where we focused on becoming known as followers of Jesus Christ.
“Identity Crisis” then is how we began the weekend with a discussion and devotion based on being given a new identity when we become known as a follower of Jesus. Just as a taste of the weekend I will leave you with the devotional we worked through together. In Matthew 16: 17-18, Jesus is talking to His disciple, Simon Peter. The name Simon when translated means “shifty” or “one who sways”. In other words, Simon who was his given name indicated that he was a little wishy-wahsy and had a problem with stability and doing the right thing. However, in verse 18, Jesus says, “But I tell you that you are Peter.” The name Peter translated is “petros” or “the rock”. Jesus was telling Peter, I don’t care what they say about you, I’m giving you a new name. You’re not going to sway in your faith anymore, but you are going to be firm. Your faith is going to be like a rock and you’re going to do the unthinkable for the kingdom of God.
God has given us all a new identity in Him that calls us to be changed and redeemed in Christ. We are no longer slaves to sin as John 3:1 tells us. Questions to ask yourself:
1. What have I allowed my identity to be? When people ask, who do I say that I am?
2. Who have I allowed to help define my identity?
3. How is my identity going to change now that I understand who God says I am?
That was the beginning of our weekend and is the beginning of walking through life with Christ as our guide, savior, comforter, and friend. But we are called to follow and find our identity in Him. The retreat focused on that to begin, working on us, and then bridged that out to how that affects how we share that love and grace that Christ gave us with our neighbors.
McKenna Center - Feed my sheep!
2014 - What's new?
Seabury Age-in-Place, McKenna Center, & More! First up is the Age-in Place program which will be the second saturday of each month. It is a new service/outreach opportunity for the whole parish to get involved in serving shut-ins and seniors who are trying to make it in their own home with assistance. For more on this opportunity check out the "Christ's Hands and Feet" tab at the top. The McKenna Center is our next new service opportunity, and it's an incredible chance to serve the homeless in DC. The McKenna Center offers a shelter, and food service to the homeless in DC and is currently only open Monday-Friday because of a lack of volunteers. It is a great opportunity to bless our neighbors with gifts God has given us. It will be first saturday's starting in February as well. Again, check out the "Christ's Hands and Feet" tab for more information and dates on the McKenna Center. Lastly, for now, is the Diocesan Youth and Family Ministry Day April 4/5. It will be a day of service on Saturday the 5th, preceded by a junior high/high school overnight at the National Cathedral on the 4th. It will be complete with worship, small groups, poverty awareness, and learning to serve as a lifestyle, not an extracurricular event. For more on that check out the "Upcoming Events" tab up above and sign up if you are interested in serving your neighbors that day.
St. Francis Youth Ministry 2013-2014
To Live is Christ…To Die is Gain – Philippians 1:21-22
This verse is well known, but it takes a whole lot more time and study to truly understand and grapple with then intensity with which Paul challenges us in these eight words alone. Let us look at what dying is, and what we are called to die from and then take a look at the opposite, which, if my theological math is correct, would be living…right?
So what does it truly mean for Paul to tell us that to die is to gain? For us to fully understand that we must first look at what we are told living in the world is. Let us start with the American dream, and quite possibly it will be sufficient to use that alone as the basis for dying. The American dream is one of insurmountable success and prosperity through making yourself the best you. It is the ideals that if you work hard enough, and be a good moral person and accepting of others that you will find financial success, career success, family success. Temporal things such as nice cars, big houses, bigger bank accounts, people liking you and an easy life are what the American dream tells us. It tells us beautiful women are 5’8” and 110 lbs. and argue this if you want, but that is the size of women who model the clothes and are in the ads you buy and see.
Let us look quickly then what Christ has to say about some of these same things in this life. In Matthew 19:24 he says, “Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God." This isn’t to frighten us as we live in prosperity, but to warn us that if we use our riches as our own instead of blessing the kingdom, the poor, the oppressed, we will get back exactly what we gave. See it as an opportunity to bless others, not as a fulfillment of the American dream. Then we go on to see James give us an even harsher view of the call from Paul in chapter 4 verse four where it says, “don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” What are things that we like to be “friends” with that are outside of what Christ has called us to? It is a very intense call, and we should be quick to see it as such and very slow to ignore that call! Finally John says a few words to wrap up this part of the unpacking of Paul’s statement. In 1 John 2:15 it says, “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” Anything in and of the world covers a whole lot of that American dream it seems, and maybe some stuff we don’t want to let go of. It is not a call to live homeless, it is not a call to quit your job and go volunteer, it is not a call to sell your car and walk everywhere, but what it is most definitely is a call to use all of those blessings not for yourself but to bless the kingdom. The question we all must ask is what are we doing with our blessings to bless God, by blessing his kingdom work?
Let us leave it here for now and ponder how we are to come to a deeper understanding of what exactly in our lives Christ is calling us to die to so that we might live for him. Are you putting your job before Christ? Do politics come before Christ in your life? Does your bank account get more attention than your Bible? Do you spend more time nourishing your physical body than your spiritual? This is just the beginning of what it means to say, “to live is Christ… to die is gain.” We are called to put into question every part of our life, even those things given by God such as family, friends, and our homes, and to answer those questions by being able to say without a doubt that Christ is above all of that. That is what we will be unpacking this year in the student ministry where students are hammered with the ideal outcome of 4.0 GPA’s, ivy league colleges, relationships built on false ideas preached by culture, getting a great job that will pay well, and being “successful”. We are going to challenge the idea of being successful this year, and instead I suggest we forget being successful and worry about being faithful. I dare bet that more joy, hope and enjoyment will be shared if being faithful becomes the goal rather than just being successful. Walk with us this year in this difficult but Christ-like challenge! AmenJ
Click on the photo to follow the link back to the St. Francis Church website
Student Ministry Contact Information Josh Ruiter - Youth Minister Office phone: 301-365-2055 Cell phone: 301-830-1060 email: email@example.com