Last night we did nothing…
Last night at Youth we took a break. For almost two hours we did nothing but talk, eat pizza and play volleyball. There was a Lenten lesson written, the practice of fasting to discuss, which would have segued neatly into setting up our next big event and service project, 30 Hour Famine. But instead we didn’t.
As a church and as a Youth ministry we talk a lot about Sabbath. It is a frequent theme of Sunday school lessons, bible studies and youth discussions. But last night I realized that, even if no one else will, we have to put our money where our mouths collectively are on the importance and immediacy of God’s rest.
Our Youth are coming off of a busy week in church life alone, with two Missions fundraisers in a week span, spending not only extra time at church but also outside work preparing for our Talent Show fundraiser, promoting the event and selling tickets. All of this on top of the usual madness of school, homework, tests, soccer, lacrosse, volleyball, chorus, ACT, SAT, AP, College Prep, piano recitals, guitar lessons, track, swimming, eating, breathing and sleeping. Oftentimes with a distinct lack of the latter.
There are always more lessons to teach. God and Scripture and Life go on and on and there is always more to learn and discover, always one more adventure to go on, one more service project to do. Sabbath can’t wait till everything else is finished. It’s no longer Sabbath then (it will also never happen).
Even if no one else will, the church has to demonstrate to youth and young adults that a good and holy life contains a balance of work and rest. It means sometimes we get one less lesson here or there. One less chance to discuss and grow and all the important things we try to cultivate in our Youth Group times. But that’s the point. To answer God’s call to rest will sometimes mean leaving things unfinished. Maybe a little less polished, a little less perfect. It will mean leaving some doors closed and some opportunities unanswered.
But if we never learn to say no we will grow into a kind of slavery to work. If we can never say no then all the good things in our lives, like work and relationships, hobbies or even worship and service to our communities, can rise up and consume us. The tiniest bite at a time.
So even if everything else won’t or can’t stop to rest, we will. Because no matter what we say or teach what we fail to demonstrate in our church life is not real. If we burden ourselves, drives ourselves to the edge of exhaustion for one more lesson, even on Sabbath, we are still failing to truly teach.