Your Story. God's Story. Our Story.
Now that I have had a few days to recover from what turned out to be a really great weekend together for our Fall Retreat, here are some reflections. We had 15 youth attend with 5 adults, for a grand total of 20 people. As we gathered around in the church parking lot on Friday afternoon, preparing to depart, I could feel the uncertainty of the students. It is a great exercise in trust to give up your weekend and go off on a weekend retreat, with this new youth minister that you aren't totally sure about. I am grateful for our students willingness to trust and come.
We traveled to Woodstock, GA to the Cherokee Outdoor YMCA Camp where we would spend the weekend exploring our own individual stories, God's story, and our collective stories. We did this through times of worship, small group reflection time, team building activities, and spending time building community with each other. On the first night during worship, we spent some time focusing on Jonah's story. So often we look at Jonah as someone who ran away from the task that God had given him to complete, but this story is so much more than that. We find in the story that Jonah did not want to go preach in Nineveh because he knew exactly what God would do, that God would show the people of Nineveh grace and mercy while Jonah wanted the people and the city to be decimated. God was able to use Jonah despite Jonah's humanness, and just like God used Jonah, God can also use us, despite us not being able to see the bigger picture. In Saturday's worship and small group time, we took a look at the creation story found in Genesis 1 to represent God's story. We used the creation story as a starting point of God's story and we talked about how God created all throughout scriptures and that God continues to create good and new things today, and God does it through us, God's people. Finally, in Sunday's time of worship, we tied it all together by focusing on Paul's letter to the church in Corinth in
1 Coninthians 12. In Paul's letter he tells about how Christ is like the body, that is made up of many parts, but contributes to the whole. To represent our stories, we used this example to represent our community. We all bring our own gifts and talents to this group, and when we share our talents with the group, we are greater when we are together than when we are separate.
We also had a ton of fun on retreat. Saturday morning, we played old school field games where two teams competed against each other for ultimate bragging rights. We had a blast, laughing, running, balancing eggs on a wooden spoon, and mastering the three legged race. The YMCA staff led us through team building games on Saturday afternoon. These games caused us to problem solve and communicate as a group to reach the end goal. Saturday night after worship, we had a blast playing Glow-In-The-Dark Capture the Flag and we ended our Saturday night sitting around the camp fire, building the best s'mores, and listening as we told the scariest stories that we could dream up.
I am a firm believer that when a group travels together, to an environment that is uncomfortable, there is a bonding that takes place that causes a group to become stronger and more willing to trust. For me, as the new kid on the block, I felt as though I was able to connect with our students on a much deeper level. Looking back on our weekend together, I am grateful for the holy, sacred, and fun moments that we shared together.
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