Tag Archives: youth

Persons of Interest


Today the Jr Youth Sunday School Class delivered the message in our service.  They worked hard on this for many weeks and the feedback on their efforts has been very positive.  They each shared a character or story from the Bible that grabbed their interest, and spoke about something they liked, or that made them wonder.  Their topics were as follows:

  • The Sneaky Snake (Genesis: 3)
    • On one hand it seems good that people gained awareness and knowledge, but we also see that this was the result of being tricked.  Also interesting to note the connection between this story and the Apple Computers logo.
  • The Creation Story (Genesis: 1/2)
    • What would the world be like today if Adam and Eve had not been tricked into eating the apple?
  • The Thief on the Cross (Luke: 23)
    • This person is interesting because we don’t know very much about him.  The story is powerful because it shows a path to forgiveness.
  • Jacob and Esau and the Blessing (Genesis: 27)
    • This story is interesting because of the way Jacob tricks his father.  It is not fair for the oldest sibling to get the whole inheritance of a family.  I would not like it if my older sister got everything.
  • Jonah and the Whale (Jonah: 1)
    • I was interested in this story because it seems outrageous.  It is hard to believe that a whale could hold a person in its mouth for 3 days.  Jonah ran from God at first but later trusted God.
  • David and Goliath (1 Samuel: 17) and Noah and the Ark (Genesis: 6)
    • These stories share a common theme of faith and confidence in God.  In both stories a person does something that others around him would not think possible.

All the children in our church are such a blessing.  Our younger kids are also getting involved as they collect coin offerings to raise money to buy goats for families in need.  Thank you kids!

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Top Ten Reasons Why I Can’t be a Minister

This next week I will be at Canadian Mennonite University, spending a week with the students there.  I was invited by the university for the purpose of encouraging young adults to think about pastoral ministry as a career option.   As I was preparing for this, I wondered how we at First Mennonite are encouraging our young adults…do we see gifts in them that might lead them to pastoral ministry? Have we ever told them about that?  If you have kids, would you encourage one of your children to be a minister?  Why or why not?

There was a long time where pastoral ministry didn’t seem to be an option for me.  I could easily have written a “Top Ten Reasons Why I Can’t be a Minister” list.   Thinking back, I wrote that out this week, and I’m going to share it with some students next week.  God found a way to meet each of my objections!

  1. I am not as spiritual as a minister should be.
  2. No one has ever told me I should be a minister.
  3. It would be too hard to go to seminary (such as AMBS in Elkhart, Indiana)
  4. I am not as wise or smart as a minster should be.
  5. There is too much politics in the church, not a good career choice.
  6. I am scared of public speaking.
  7. I wouldn’t know what to preach about.
  8. I have already trained for a different career.
  9. I won’t have as much fun in life if I am trying to be holy all the time.
  10. My friends will treat me differently if they know I am a minister.

Please pray this week that God will lead young people into ministry, and that the church will find spaces to nurture their gifts, and accept their leadership.

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Maps to steer by

A couple of years ago I had a very vivid dream. I had been reading a lot of stories about the Mennonites and their difficult time in the Ukraine, and I think they made a very big impression on me. I dreamed that there was a war here in Canada, and that suddenly it became very unsafe for young men. It was so unsafe, in fact, that my son had to flee. This was a sudden and quick decision we made and it happened in the middle of the night. Time was very short, he had to leave the house immediately. We told him that he had to go to British Columbia because that is where he would be safe. We stuck some things in a backpack for him and sent him out the back door of our house; we said good-bye, and we saw him jump over the back fence and disappear into the darkness. It was only when we got inside and a few minutes had passed that I suddenly realized that we had not given him a map. He was gone, there was no way we could give him a map now…and the thing that was so vivid about the dream was the terrible sense that we had forgotten to give him something essential for his journey. How would he know where to go, or what to expect along the way?

Maps are what ground us…maps prepare us for the journey ahead, and help explain where we’ve been. This Sunday we’ll be talking about maps for the Christian life. In a few weeks we will be baptizing one of our young people, what can she expect on the road ahead?

This week’s prayer: The road goes ever on and on…help us Lord to discern the right roads to take. And give us strength for the journey, and companions along the way.

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Finding a voice

I remember the first time I spoke from a pulpit. It was in my last year of high school. It was a New Years Eve service, which traditionally was a sharing service. Anyone could get up and share something that God had done in their life. I remember the darkness of the building…it was very big, and even with the lights on it was sort of cavernous and shadowy. It was a smaller group than the normal Sunday service, and there was a feeling of joy in the meeting, which was memorable since most services were very solemn and serious. I don’t remember at all what I shared. I know that I had prepared something and took a piece of paper up with me. What I do remember very clearly are the rows of upturned faces. The quietness into which I spoke. The attentiveness. The respectful listening. I had something in my heart about God that I wanted to share, and these people were listening to me. They really listened.

I didn’t run out right then and there and aim to be a pastor. That took around 25 years. But that evening I learned that I was part of the community not just as a listener, but as someone with a voice.

I am thrilled that this Sunday the youth will be in charge of our worship service. I look forward to hearing their voices. I am thrilled when I hear the voice of a young person speak in a membership or church council meeting, when they get up in sharing time, or when they participate by reading scripture. It’s hard to do that sometimes, to get up and participate. I am thrilled because their voice is important, and they are finding their voice in our community.

What I also remember about that first time in the pulpit, is that afterwards people thanked me for sharing. Not just adults I knew, and talked to, like my youth sponsors, but people who had never talked to me before. Suddenly I felt that maybe there was a place for me in this community called the church.

Finding a voice is a two-way process. It’s looking inside and seeing something there that needs to be said, but it’s also looking outside and sensing that people are listening, and want to hear you. Let’s remember that this Sunday.

The Mute’s Testimony

I can’t pray aloud
My tongue flaps
but no sound takes shape.

Can a voiceless prayer
fly out
across space?

When I pray
an enormous ear strains to hear me

swallows in
my tiniest thought.

from “Jesus” by Yorifumi Yaguchi
translated by Ross Bender, Pinchpenny Press, 1989, pp. 21-22.

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It seems that September is a big month for launching or being launched. A number of our young people are leaving home for the first time. You are moving out of your parent’s home and making your own space, defining who you are, what you do…on your own terms. It’s exciting and scary at the same time. Some people are starting new schools, and they wonder, “What will my profs/teachers be like? How hard will I have to work? Can I do this?” And that’s true for whether you are launching into first year university or a new high school or even kindergarten!

And then there are the people who are doing the launching. When students leave home, or head off on big far-away adventures, parents get a curious empty feeling. There is a feeling of satisfaction; you raise children, after all, to become independent, and when they are launched, you realize you have done a good job. But there is sadness too, not just for parents, but for friends and other family members, as the person you’ve seen every day now becomes a person you see once in a while. Primary relationships are beginning to morph into secondary relationships. Launching is a bittersweet time.

When it comes down to it, launching is something you have to weather right from the get-go. Whether it’s leaving your baby for the first time with a babysitter, or leaving your child crying in a preschool, or looking scared on their first day of kindergarten, space in relationships is something we negotiate, all the way up until the baby you held in your arms moves into their own home.

For young adults, launching into your new life, you need to establish your own relationship with God. When you live at home, becoming part of a church community can be something that happens by default. Now you have to decide…is Jesus someone I want to get to know? Is Christian community something necessary in my life?

Prayer: God, you are in the spaces between us. Your love binds us together, whether we are close at hand, or separated by many miles. Be with people this week who are experiencing heavy weather in September, the launching month. Be the North Star that sets our course.

Here are some of the youngest members of our church at a recent moms and tots meeting.  Even they are launching and being launched in  different ways!

Here are some of the youngest members of our church at a recent moms and tots meeting. Even they are launching and being launched in different ways!

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Travelling shoes

What’s the furthest you’ve ever been away from home? I’m not sure about the exact location for me, but I know the place where I’ve felt furthest from home. I was on a study tour to Tanzania years ago. Our group was travelling down a one-lane road forever, and we stopped for a minute and people got out of the van. It was twilight, so half the sky seemed like the day, and half the sky seemed like the night. The grasslands around us were strikingly beautiful, with tall trees dotting the plains, stretching out to the horizon. I remember looking one way down the road where we’d come from, then looking the other way towards where we were going and having this wave of homesickness flood me. I looked up and even the stars were unfamiliar. I knew in my heart of hearts, “I am a long way from home.”

It’s a big world. “Living Faithfully on God’s Blue Planet” is the theme for our August worship. This Sunday we’ll be talking about how big our world can seem, and what that means for us as Christians. Katie Friesen will be leaving for her Mennonite Central Committee term in Chad next week, so we will be praying for her. Do you have ideas of how we can support Katie in her year away?

Sometimes we feel called by God to leave the familiar and go somewhere new. God is wherever we go, but it can be a rich and unsettling experience to be immersed in a new environment. Is there somewhere new that God is calling you to go? It might not be a distant geographical place. Venturing outside the boundaries of a grudge you’ve been holding could be new territory for you. Starting a new school can seem like a new world, even if it’s close to home. Opening the Bible and reading a book you’ve never read before, can introduce you to a new part of the landscape of God’s love.

This week’s prayer: Open my ears to hear where you are calling me. Let my eyes see the road you’ve laid out. Give me the courage I need to put on my travelling shoes!

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