devozine

For Youth Workers Post

COURAGE

Steven Lefebvre

“In the Habit” session for use with devozine meditations for January 19–25, 2015.

MAKING THE CONNECTION

“This session is about courage. Personally, I’ve struggled with fear and worry my whole life. I used to think that fear was a bad thing, something for me to get rid of or to ignore. When I was a kid, I was afraid of storms. I was terrified that a tornado would destroy my house. I used to lie in my bed and pray that God would take the fear away. I realize now that fear does not always need to be taken away. Fear is something we feel, often because we are unprepared for what is happening; but fear can point or move us to action. Courage is walking through our fear and discovering what we are capable of with God’s help. I hope this session will help you to broach this conversation with your youth.” —Steven

MEET THE WRITER

devozine Steven LefebvreMy 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. You can also read my blog.

STUFF YOU WILL NEED

PLUGGED IN

CHECKING IN

Give group members a couple of minutes to think about a memorable time when they were afraid. Then ask volunteers to talk about their experience in sixty seconds or less; time them. After everyone has had a chance to speak, ask the group to vote on the two stories they want to hear more about. Then give the two storytellers three minutes to offer more details about their story. Have the group vote on which one of the stories they want to unpack theologically.

Invite group members to reflect on the story by brainstorming and coming up with four lists, each related to one of these four words: creation, sin, judgment, and redemption. Write each word on the white board in a different color (the colors listed below are only suggestions). Invite everyone to participate and to help the storyteller discover these components of the story. Explain that you will list the responses under each word.

Use these questions to guide the brainstorming:

CREATION (green)
       What is the context of this person’s story?
       What is the place?
       Who are the people? What are they like?
       Who’s in charge?

SIN (red)
       What caused chaos in this person’s story?
       What were the factors that make him or her feel fear? pain?
       What was the moment when everything became more difficult?

JUDGMENT (blue)
       When do you realize something is wrong?
       Does somebody help?
       What changes in behavior are needed?
       How is the source of the chaos exposed?
       Where is God in the story?

REDEMPTION (purple)
       What happens after the person responds?
       How is the conflict resolved?
       What new understandings did you come to because of the story?

EXPLORING THE WORD

Scripture: Matthew 6:19–34

Did you know that we can’t help but be afraid? Fear is an instinct that goes back to the days of cave people. It’s like an indicator light on the car dashboard that warns us of danger ahead. Cave people felt fear when a wild animal was coming to kill them. Feeling fear kept people alive, because it told them to prepare to fight or to run. Today, we fear hundreds of things every day whether we know it or not.

To be afraid doesn’t necessarily mean my heart is racing and my death is imminent. Most of the time, fear is more subtle. When the fear indicator goes off, what’s important is not that the light goes off but how we respond. Think about it: If the gaslight comes on in our car, do we try to figure out how to turn the light off? Of course not. We respond by looking for a gas station. In the same way, when we feel fear, we respond.

Many people respond to fear by worrying. We worry about money because we are afraid of losing our home. We worry about what our friends think of us because we are afraid of being abandoned by them. We worry about getting good grades because we’re afraid that a D will make us insignificant. We worry about what’s going on in the Middle East because deep down we’re afraid of dying.

To worry is a choice. At the root of all our worries is an underlying fear. Jesus’ wisdom in Matthew 6:19–34 is about understanding deep within our souls that God is in control of the world. Courage is about having faith, not being tough. This is why it’s important to think theologically about our fears. Thinking theologically helps us to see that in all of our stories, God is near. When we trust God, we no longer have to choose to worry. Instead, we can respond to our fears by making preparations, changing our behavior, not taking unnecessary risks, and tying up loose ends. These are the actions of courageous people.

Discuss:
       What do you worry about right now?
       What do your worries tell you about your fears? What are you afraid of?
       At what moments in your life have you felt the presence of God?
       How have you responded differently to your fears because you experienced the presence of God?
       How could you respond differently to your present fears?
       What preparations need to be made? How can you change your behavior to alleviate your fear? What unnecessary risks are you taking? What is being left undone in your life?

SHARING IN PRAYER

Invite God to be with your group members in their fears. Then invite each person in turn to name in one or two words something he or she is afraid of. Ask God for courage, faith, and wisdom.

TAKING IT FURTHER

  • Many people with excessive worry or fear are experiencing dangerous situations, such as physical, social, emotional, or sexual abuse; bullying at school; or untreated mental illness. Encourage them to talk to you or to another trusted adult who is able to help.
  • Invite group members to create art projects based on Matthew 6:19–34.

—from devozine In the Habit (January/February 2015). Copyright © 2015 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.

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