devozine

For Youth Workers Post

IT’S TOUGH TO WAIT

Steve Matthews

“In the Habit” session for use with devozine meditations for November 23–29, 2015.

MAKING THE CONNECTION

“Waiting is difficult. When we find ourselves waiting for good news or a good experience—such as waiting to be reunited with someone we love, we are anxious because we want the good to come sooner. If we sense bad news on the horizon, we may find waiting difficult because of uncertainty. We often fear the unknown, and waiting time can make our imagination run wild as we try to predict how bad the news might be. Sometimes, we find waiting difficult because we are used to being entertained or occupied.

“If you think waiting is easy, notice how people become impatient when we are too slow to respond to their voice, email, or text messages. Waiting is hard for children too. Many games have been invented to keep children (and adults) occupied during times when they have to wait.

“What can waiting teach us? How do we continue to live fully and faithfully in the times in between activities, when we have to wait? Perhaps in the tough times of waiting God’s faithfulness and nearness is most evident if we open our hearts to the possibility.” — Steve

MEET THE WRITER

devozine Steve Matthews IMG_0433Steve Matthews was a youth minister for more than 15 years. He lives in New Bedford, Massachusetts, and is the Executive Director of the South Coast Mission Hub (a collaborative of churches sponsored by the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts). Steve is also a spiritual director and a consultant, working to redevelop parish ministries struggling with decline. He was a writer for The Way of Pilgrimage: An Adventure in Spiritual Formation for the Next Generation.

STUFF YOU WILL NEED

PLUGGED IN

  • The song “Sitting, Waiting, Wishing” by Jack Johnson addresses the theme of waiting for someone to return our affection.
  • John Waller’s song “While I’m Waiting” encourages us to live faithfully even while we are waiting.
  • Consider showing this clip from Cast Away, a movie about being stranded on a deserted island for four years, waiting for rescue.

CHECKING IN

Begin the session with an opening ritual: a moment of silence, a short prayer the group members say together, or a candle lit to symbolize Christ’s presence. Take a moment to claim the space and time as holy.

Then tell the group that the session will start in a minute or so. Don’t offer an explanation. Wait 3–5 minutes. If they ask when you’re going to start, say, “In a minute.” When you’re ready, say, “OK, let’s start.”

Ask the questions below, and encourage group members to listen prayerfully to everyone’s responses without comment.
       What was it like to wait when you didn’t know what was coming?
       What was happening in the room during the time of waiting? How did you fill the gap?
       When have you been asked to wait?
       Were you waiting for something good or bad?
       How did you feel?

EXPLORING THE WORD

Scripture: Genesis 18:1–14

Ask group members to discuss the following question, and record their responses on newsprint.
       Why is waiting often difficult?

Invite two or more volunteers to read Genesis 18:1–14 aloud two times. Then ask:
       What do you notice about the scripture passage? What stands out?
       How did waiting to become a mother affected Sarah?
       How do you feel about waiting a long time for something to happen?
Record the group’s responses on newsprint.

Many Christian mystics taught that perhaps the most powerful prayer was being aware of God’s presence and activity in each moment, right here and right now. Invite people to reflect on these questions:
       If the mystics were right, what could we be missing as we spend our lives waiting for something else to happen?
       How is God calling you to live your life fully and faithfully right here and right now even as you wait for something else?
Encourage group members to share their thoughts with the group, if they are willing.

SHARING IN PRAYER

Invite group members to read in unison Psalm 25:1–10 (NRSV):

To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
O my God, in you I trust;
     do not let me be put to shame;
     do not let my enemies exult over me.
Do not let those who wait for you be put to shame;
     let them be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.

Make me to know your ways, O Lord;
     teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth, and teach me,
     for you are the God of my salvation;
     for you I wait all day long.

Be mindful of your mercy, O Lord, and of your steadfast love,
     for they have been from of old.
Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions;
     according to your steadfast love remember me,
     for your goodness’ sake, O Lord!

Good and upright is the Lord;
     therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
He leads the humble in what is right,
     and teaches the humble his way.
All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness,
     for those who keep his covenant and his decrees.

TAKING IT FURTHER

This session marks the beginning of Advent. During Advent, we wait for God’s revelation in Jesus to come to fruition. Invite group members to consider what their hearts are longing for, and ask them to write on index cards prayers that express their heart’s desire. How do they need Jesus to come to them in this time of waiting?

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

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