SUNDAY REFLECTION FOR YOUTH
MARCH 29, 2020
Early this morning, a thunderstorm rolled through our area. I don’t know if any of you heard or saw it – I know I usually tend to sleep through storms. I woke up and heard raindrops pounding on my window, and saw flashes of lightning and heard thunder not too far behind. I called my cat, Kurt, to me and we snuggled until the storm was over. I didn’t want him to be afraid, and together, we made it through the storm just fine.
And it got me thinking, all of us are going through a storm right now. There’s lightning: a contagious virus with no vaccine (yet). There’s thunder: the loud fear and panic over the lightning and the damage it does. And there’s the rain: Just the loneliness and the “stuck inside” feeling of rain that won’t stop falling.
How are you doing weathering this storm? Are you feeling rested? Irritated? Sad? Lonely? Enjoying a break? Bored?
Whatever you are feeling, it’s okay to feel that way. If the feelings get to be too much, try writing them down in a journal, or on a piece of paper that you tear up and throw away. Just make sure you express them in a healthy way rather than bottling them up and eventually exploding.
Our scripture reading to reflect on today is basically the whole chapter of Acts 27. I encourage you to read the whole chapter because it’s a whole adventure about Paul’s journey to Rome.
Here’s an excerpt:
When a gentle south wind began to blow, they thought they could carry out their plan. They pulled up anchor and sailed closely along the coast of Crete. Before long, a hurricane-strength wind known as a northeaster swept down from Crete. The ship was caught in the storm and couldn’t be turned into the wind. So we gave in to it, and it carried us along. After sailing under the shelter of an island called Cauda, we were able to control the lifeboat only with difficulty. They brought the lifeboat aboard, then began to wrap the ship with cables to hold it together. Fearing they might run aground on the sandbars of the Gulf of Syrtis, they lowered the anchor and let the ship be carried along. We were so battered by the violent storm that the next day the men began throwing cargo overboard. On the third day, they picked up the ship’s gear and hurled it into the sea. When neither the sun nor the moon appeared for many days and the raging storm continued to pound us, all hope of our being saved from this peril faded.
For a long time no one had eaten. Paul stood up among them and said, “Men, you should have complied with my instructions not to sail from Crete. Then we would have avoided this damage and loss. Now I urge you to be encouraged. Not one of your lives will be lost, though we will lose the ship. Last night an angel from the God to whom I belong and whom I worship stood beside me. The angel said, ‘Don’t be afraid, Paul! You must stand before Caesar! Indeed, God has also graciously given you everyone sailing with you.’ Be encouraged, men! I have faith in God that it will be exactly as he told me. However, we must run aground on some island.”
In this story from Acts, Paul is on a voyage to Rome, traveling by ship on the Mediterranean Sea. The boat is hit with a storm and everything looks really bad. I find Paul’s response to all of it hilarious. He basically says, “Yeah, it’s bad, but it’s going to be fine. Well, it’s going to be fine but first we have to crash the ship into land. And that will be bad too, but hey, we’re gonna make it.”
It’s like solving a problem by creating more problems. Have you all ever experienced that? You tried to solve a problem and found yourself with even more problems before solving any of them? Whenever I’m in a situation like this I like calling it a “comedy of errors.” Sometimes things keep going badly until they finally go well.
Right now, we as humanity have been hit with a storm and have smashed our “boat” onto a random island. We haven’t reached the end of this journey and gotten to Rome. But in staying at home and keeping the virus from spreading, it’s kind of like we’re chilling on the island with our busted ship, waiting.
How are you passing the time on your island? How are you dealing with the feelings of being stuck on a random island? Journaling? Exercising? Doing something creative? Building something? If you find yourself with a bunch of energy and nothing to do, try something new this week! Maybe try and build a musical instrument out of some random boxes, etc. Or write a story. Teach your pet a new trick. Learn a new way to exercise. Step out of your normal patterns, and overcome boredom!
And let me know how it's going during my “office hours” on Zoom this week!
Enter this code: 846-201-450
Enter this password: youthloft
Looking forward to hearing from you all after the weirdest spring break ever!
Weirdest Spring Break Ever? Maybe so. I hope that you haven’t been feeling too stir-crazy in this time of isolation and staying at home. I hope you haven’t been feeling too lonely, either. It’s definitely lonely, especially as a teenager, to feel stuck and unable to hang out with friends.
As much as we might love our family members, too much time spent with anyone can be a challenge! I hope that you are able to find some patience and grace for your family members when you’re feeling irritated with them.
I want to offer a Sunday reflection for you all to read when you have a moment today. We were in the middle of a Sunday School series on the 7 Deadly Sins and 7 Heavenly Virtues, and we will resume that when our church opens back up (idk when that will be yet).
For now, I’ll be posting some short reflections to help keep your head above water in this super weird time.
Our reflection today is on Matthew 13:1-9
That day Jesus went out of the house and sat down beside the lake. Such large crowds gathered around him that he climbed into a boat and sat down. The whole crowd was standing on the shore. He said many things to them in parables: “A farmer went out to scatter seed. As he was scattering seed, some fell on the path, and birds came and ate it. Other seed fell on rocky ground where the soil was shallow. They sprouted immediately because the soil wasn’t deep. But when the sun came up, it scorched the plants, and they dried up because they had no roots. Other seed fell among thorny plants. The thorny plants grew and choked them. Other seed fell on good soil and bore fruit, in one case a yield of one hundred to one, in another case a yield of sixty to one, and in another case a yield of thirty to one. Everyone who has ears should pay attention.”
Maybe you’ve heard this parable before, maybe not. (Remember, a “parable” is a small story that teaches a big lesson, usually told by Jesus.) It’s one that always challenges me.
You can read it in at least 3 different ways:
Imagine you are the farmer, spreading seeds about. Do you pay attention to where you plant them? In other words, where in your life do you put in a ton of effort and do your best? Have you ever had a time when you put in a ton of effort and got no result? When we put a ton of work into something and nothing happens, it’s super frustrating. A question for thinking about: What are the things worth working for, that are valuable to you, that line up with your gifts and talents and will probably end up with something great? What are some things that you are pouring a ton of energy into that are just not working out?
Imagine you are a seed. What kind of soil are you planted in? Seeds always grow best in healthy environments with lots of nutrients, water, and sunlight. Is your environment “good soil”? Do you surround yourself with kind friends and healthy relationships? Do you drink enough water and eat, like, a vegetable every so often? Healthy plants need healthy environments to live in, and healthy people need the same thing. What can you do this week to make your soil, aka environment, healthier?
Imagine you are the soil. Or more like -- imagine that your inner life is the soil. You could call it your soul, your spirit, your heart. Are you a person where seeds can grow, filled with good soil, nutrients, and worms? (Um, if there are literally worms in you, please go to the doctor). Are you a person filled with sand and rocks, or choked up by thorns, or feeling trampled and worn thin like a trail that people walk all over? It’s good for us to reflect on what kind of “soil” we have within, and figure out what we can do to make our own “soil” better for living. (Step 1: Don’t eat any worms.)
That’s about it for this Sunday reflection. I hope that you all are managing to enjoy Spring Break even though everything is kind of sad and lonely right now. I know I definitely look forward to when I get to see you all again!
P.S. I have been playing the new Animal Crossing game on the Nintendo Switch. If you are lonely and need company, come visit my island! My friend code is SW-3319-8297-7788 (bearnicorn).