Like a house motto in Game of Thrones, Christians proclaim the day of resurrection is near. And of course it is near but I find that many of us in youth ministry may not slow down enough to experience the power of the drama of Holy Week.
So, here are 7 things you could be doing:
Turn Off Your Technology
Want to experience death? Want to be in the metaphorical tomb? Turn off everything. Unplug. Everything. Why? In order to slow down enough to read, pray, hear the story again for the first time.
Sit In Your Empty Sanctuary
Want to get in touch with what it is like to feel abandoned, alone, lost? Go into your sanctuary to pray, in the dark, when nobody is there. Listen for God. Hear the silence. Imagine what it is like for all of those good folks you are in ministry with that never takes this kind of time for silence. Ask God for new ways to reach youth and families in quiet ways.
Spend No Money on Food
As soon as you read this, do not eat out; do not go to the grocery store. Eat only what you have stored up. Begin a fast without eating any food for a meal or a day. Imagine the hunger of Jesus. You didn’t think they served him a fancy last meal after they flogged and mocked him did you? While you pray through your hunger imagine all of the thousands of images of God that perish each day because they do not have enough food. Jesus said that we would find him in the hungry person. Maybe someone can find Jesus in you.
Spend Time With People
Since you will have so much extra time after turning of your technology, think of 2-3 people who may want to kill you for 30 pieces of silver or less, and invite them to sit down and talk. You listen and let them talk. Most of us can’t go a week or two without making somebody in our youth ministry unhappy. Make yourself vulnerable to them this week.
Read A Gospel A Day
Over 4 days this week, read each of the Gospels. Do nothing else until you have read the whole Gospel. Mark. Matthew. Luke. John. Soak your mind and body in the Holy Scripture. Let it shape you for the day. Contemplate how each day is different based of how you hear the story again in a new way. Ask yourself on day 5: Am I really living this good news out in my life?
Learn to rely on prayer by praying non-stop for 24 hours. Make a chart of 24 and sub-divide it by 4 (15 minute segments giving yourself 96 people/things to pray for/about). Go ahead and work your normal day while praying for each thing as you go about your work. Get things done but let your focus be on prayer. When you are not working, since you have no TV/computer turned on to waste your time, and maybe you are fasting because suddenly you have no food left, focus in on what God is saying to you about each item on your list of 96. Give up sleep but rest when your 24 hours are up. If you can’t do 24, do 18 at least.
Eliminate All Complaints
After the first 6 you and I will have a long list of things to complain about. Don’t do it! Instead, each time you find yourself ready to complain, stop, think of something to be thankful for and express that instead. You are alone, tired, hungry, and you gave up everything at least for a week. Can you be thankful? Can gratitude be your guide? Can you metaphorically follow in Jesus’ steps even though you work at a church that expects you to do so very much this week of all weeks? Be thankful that you were called for just such a time as this.
Journal questions for the following week:
How am I different?
What did I like?
What did I hate?
How do I feel the story of Jesus differently?
How do I know the story of Jesus differently?
How will I go slow and do youth ministry differently in the future?
I will be praying for you. Good luck. God is with you. You are NOT alone! Thanks be to God!
Peace and Grace,
Charles W. Harrison