devozine

For Youth Workers Post

ON THE ROAD AGAIN

Steven Lefebvre

“In the Habit” session for use with devozine meditations for March 14–20, 2016.

MAKING THE CONNECTION

       (Watch video)

MEET THE WRITER

devozine StevenL video shotMy name is Steven Lefebvre. I work with the youth and young adults at St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church in Nashville, Tennessee. Before my life of working at a church, I was the lead vocalist in a heavy metal 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. I have a wife, two dogs, and a baby.

STUFF YOU WILL NEED

  • art supplies: markers, colored pencils, crayons, and so on
  • paper
  • copies of the closing prayer
  • Print-Friendly Version of this session

PLUGGED IN

CHECKING IN

Provide paper and art supplies. Ask group members to draw on one side of a sheet of paper pictures or symbols that will help them explain a time when they went somewhere new. They may draw, for example, a symbol of somewhere far away; or they may draw a picture of a new experience, such as their first day in a new school. They should choose a place that felt foreign and strange, a place that made them feel uncomfortable.

Ask group members to draw on the back of the sheet of paper two lines so that they make three equal columns. Then tell them to write at the top of the left hand column, “What I Expected”; at the top of the middle column, “What Surprised Me”; and at the top of the right hand column, “How I Feel about This Place Now.” Ask everyone to write at least three things in each column.

Then ask each person in turn to show his or her artwork and to read what he or she wrote in the columns.

EXPLORING THE WORD

Scripture: John 6:27–40

When I was seventeen, my parents let me go on a trip to Rome, Italy, with a friend of mine. Crazy, right? About four days into my trip, I was on a bus, crying because I was so frustrated. Everywhere I went I felt strange. I felt as if I were being rude to everyone and almost no one spoke English. I was in culture shock. Starting my trip, I didn’t know what to expect. I thought I would see a few ruins and some old churches. I didn’t anticipate how different the people would be.

I learned a lot on that trip. I learned that Americans aren’t the most fashionable people on the planet. I learned that I am uncomfortable when I don’t know all the rules and customs. I learned that the world doesn’t revolve around my city, state, or nation. The most important lesson I learned was that I could grow. By the end of my second week in Rome, I was in love with the city. I was riding the trains, eating new foods, and picking up a few Italian words along the way. I believe I stretched a great deal on that trip. I realized that the world is bigger and more diverse than I thought. In that tension, I adapted and matured, and my perspective changed a bit. My trip to Rome was humbling, but that’s a good thing.

This, I believe, is why the Hebrew people, who would become the Jews, needed to wander in the wilderness for forty years. For generations, they lived in captivity in Egypt; and over time, Pharaoh’s kingdom became the center of their universe. Over the course of their forty years in the wilderness, the Israelites adopted new customs, wrote new laws, and learned to depend on God. They counted on God for their daily bread (manna). In their traveling, they expanded and grew into a great nation.

Unfortunately, when Jesus jumped on the scene, the Jews had forgotten the hugeness of what God was up to. All they cared about was having the Romans go away and give them their country back. Their hope in God was tied to their freedom from Rome. But Jesus came to do something for the whole world, not only for the little Israelite nation.

In John 6, Jesus calls his followers to believe in him. Belief in Jesus is directly tied to hope in Jesus. Our circumstances often disappoint or hurt us; and like the Jews, we long for something different. However, if our hope is tied to our circumstances and comes with conditions, then we are merely wishing. Christian hope, ultimately, is believing that God is at work in this world. We believe God is making all things new. We believe that despite our circumstances, God’s bigger story is unfolding.

Like the Hebrew people in the wilderness, whose daily bread formed them into a people who trusted God, we must daily surrender to God our expectations and open ourselves to finding our place in the larger, eternal story that is unfolding. Eternal life in the way of Jesus isn’t about getting everything you want, and it’s so much more than life after death. It’s about being one with a loving and merciful maker who is endlessly working to bring justice and peace to the entire creation, which includes us. The more we can open our perspective to more than ourselves and the people we know, the more we can grasp the gravity and scope of God’s movement. Even though you might be struggling in this moment, believing in Jesus means trusting that something good is in the works for the whole world.

If I’m honest, I don’t like traveling. It reminds me too much of how small I am. However, like Jesus said in Matthew, the kingdom of God is about things the size of a mustard seed. Dare to be small. Step into uncomfortable places. God will meet you there.

Discuss:
       Where have you traveled that changed the way you understood the world?
       Do you like to change your perspective, the way you think about things? Why or why not?
       How does thinking about being one of seven billion people on this planet make you feel?
       Why is it so hard to feel small?
       What do you think God’s plan is for the world? Do you see it happening in your life? Is it difficult to see how your life connects with God’s plan?

SHARING IN PRAYER

Invite group members to say together a “Prayer for Those Who Travel” from the Book of Common Prayer (page 831):

O God, our heavenly Father, whose glory fills the whole creation, and whose presence we find wherever we go: Preserve those who travel . . . surround them with your loving care; protect them from every danger; and bring them in safety to their journey’s end; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

TAKING IT FURTHER

Go one place that makes you feel uncomfortable this week. Go to a store in your neighborhood where immigrants shop. Eat lunch in a different part of the cafeteria. Stop and talk to someone who is asking for money on the street corner. Stretch yourself and begin to see a great big world out there.

—from devozine In the Habit (March/April 2016). Copyright © 2016 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.

Back To Home

To Order Devozine Magazine, call 1.800.972.0433.