Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Sometimes Our Blessings Are Out on the Water

Youth Sunday 2011 was this past week-end at Zion. Our student leadership team has been working on the ideas and our theme all year. Our worship chairs on the student leadership team gave the final approval on the order of worship! And then the 6th-12th grade students were asked at youth group, via email and facebook, and at our lock-in Friday night to lead the various aspects of worship. It all came together quite nicely!

The topic on which we focused for the service was “Initiative” and we used the piece of Scripture where Peter steps out of the boat and is walking on the water to Jesus. Our students filmed a video where the Scripture was read and they then gave their thoughts on just what “Initiative” means and they shared examples of how they have taken initiative in their lives. You can view that video here:

Youth Sunday Scripture Video

The youth also decided to offer an interactive prayer time after the sermon. In this interactive and symbolic prayer, worshipers were given a piece of tile and a marker. They were asked to write one area of their life, family, or our church where they needed to take initiative. They then moved to an area where they were given a hammer and they smashed the tile into pieces. This symbolized their willingness to “step out of the boat” (i.e. their comfort zone) and that they are committed to taking initiative in that area. During the remaining time in the service, the broken pieces of tile were being glued to a cross. This is symbolic because the cross changes us! It gives us strength to step out of the boat and take initiative in the first place. This is just what justification by grace through faith is all about! So, our smashed up tiles were turned into something beautiful upon our commitment!

Perhaps the most compelling part of the service for me happened during Kara’s sermon. Kara was preaching about how the boat is like our comfort zone and often times we are like the 11 other disciples who didn’t step out onto the water as Peter did. During her sermon, Kara said something quite powerful which speaks to me and perhaps has some relevance on our current situation in the wake of the financial and spiritual decisions being made at Zion. Kara said that in order for us sometimes to receive the blessings that God has for us, we must sometimes step out of our boats because our blessings may be out in the water and not in the boat.

I agree! As scary as it is to face the storms that may rise up while we are on the water (not to mention the “water” itself), if we don’t step out in faith think of all of the things we might miss. Thankfully Jesus is right there on the water with us, reaching out His hand to help guide us through our doubts and fears. Either way, in the boat or out of it, we have to trust the God will take care of us and that God will provide for us!

This got me to thinking ... in the past two weeks, two different people have tried to explain something to me that has thrown me a little off kilter. These persons explained that they were convinced that God purposefully steps away from a church or out of our personal lives for periods of time. One of these persons gave the example of God stepping away in the Old Testament. The other one gave the example of thier own life and feeling that God has abandoned them.

I am not convinced that this is the case! I think that we are the ones who turn away from Jesus or take our eyes off of Him. Just look at this example of Peter! Think about what Kara was saying! It was Peter who looked away and began to sink. It wasn't Jesus who disappeared or anything ... he was there they whole time! In the Old Testament, it was the Israelites who turned away from God and focused on other things. Yes, God was silent but I believe, in a weird way, that was because God was trying to get their attention!! So many times in our lives, we want to place blame on other people. However, sometimes we have to look inward and take responsibility for oursevles. It's called free will! So, today, I remember that there is nothing that can seperate us from God's love ... not even a stormy sea.

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