For Youth Workers Post
“In the Habit” session for use with devozine meditations for September 1–7, 2014.
MAKING THE CONNECTION
MEET THE WRITER
My name is Steven Lefebvre. I work with the youth and young adults at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Before my life of working at a church, I was the lead vocalist in a hardcore band. These days, I spend my free time being an armchair film critic, reading comic books, and playing much quieter music (well, sort of). I’m also an amateur champion of darts and dodge ball. I’m a huge fan of going to baseball games in the summer and to college basketball games in the winter. Feel free to read my blog.
STUFF YOU WILL NEED
- copies of the closing prayer
- Print-Friendly Version of this session
- “The Theology of Health and Healing,” by Rowan Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury
Distribute pens and paper. Ask group members to write at the top of the page “Spirit,” in the middle of the page “Mind,” and toward the bottom of the page “Body.” Then invite them to write a response to the following prompt: “Describe your best ordinary day.” The day they describe shouldn’t be one they’ve had, but one they would like to have and should be entirely ordinary—no special trips, no meeting someone famous, no winning the lottery. For each detail of the day, ask them to keep the details within the categories of spirit, mind, and body.
Help them get started with questions such as these: “Does your perfect day begin with a good breakfast, prayer, a trip to the gym? Do you read a chapter a favorite book? What activities do you do throughout the day? What do you eat for meals? How much sleep did you get the night before? What does your house look like when you get home from school? With whom do you spend the day?” Encourage people to hammer out the details of their day and to be prepared to discuss what they’ve written.
Bring group members together to discuss these questions:
What is crucial to your having a good day?
Are the choices your own or are they choices other people make for you? If they are other people’s choices, how would the choices you make keep other people from having so much influence or power over you?
How would the way you take care of yourself influence the kind of day you have?
Is it possible to have a good day if your body doesn’t feel good? Why? Why not?
How does stress affect the way you deal with problems?
Is it possible to have an awesome day even if it includes some conflict? Why? Why not?
EXPLORING THE WORD
Scripture: Romans 12:3–13
Often, I have read Romans 12:3–13 as a warning against being jealous of other people’s gifts. God has made me the way I am, and my gifts matter. Not only do my gifts matter, they are also needed for building the kingdom of God. Our different gifts and talents are necessary for unity, for making us one. Conformity actually scatters us.
But let’s take the passage one step further: If God made us with particular gifts because God needs those gifts to do God’s work, then God needs us to be in our best condition.
To build God’s kingdom is to remake the world as God originally created it, with all of creation—animals, people, plants, air—living in harmony. Polluted air, soil, and water are purified. Wars come to an end. The hungry are fed. The exploitation and poaching of animals ends, and endangered species flourish. God has certainly called people, maybe you, and given them gifts to build the kingdom. They need the best education, the strongest bodies, the most perseverant souls.
But Jesus also says that the kingdom of God is like a mustard seed (Matthew 13:31–32). For Jesus, aspects of the kingdom of God are actually quite small. In Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5), the kingdom of God is almost entirely about matters of the heart. The way we talk to and about one another and the choices we make about forgiving or taking care of one another are the little choices that become the building blocks for God’s kingdom.
Have you noticed how difficult it is to be kind when you haven’t gotten enough sleep? when you’re stressed out? when you’re hungry? Exercise is the best cure for stress, and diet is directly tied to mental health. What have you learned about yourself at the end of an exhausting workout? You are part of God’s broken creation. God desires healing for you. When we make good choices about food, sleep, and exercise, we are planting little mustard seeds that build the kingdom of God.
What is your gift in building the kingdom of God?
What can you do every day to enhance your ability to use your gift?
What gets in the way of your making healthy choices?
Are the people you hang out with encouraging you to be healthy? Who are people who you can reach out to for encouragement?
SHARING IN PRAYER
Invite group members to say together a prayer “For the Good Use of Leisure”:
“O God, in the course of this busy life, give us times of refreshment and peace; and grant that we may so use our leisure to rebuild our bodies and renew our minds, that our spirits may be opened to the goodness of your creation; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
TAKING IT FURTHER
Invite group members to reread their descriptions of the perfect day. Invite them to write an action plan, listing the steps required to make the perfect day happen and the people who will encourage them and keep them accountable. Suggest that each of them talk about his or her plans with one or two other people.
—from devozine In the Habit (September/October 2014). Copyright © 2014 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.