This past weekend I had the joy of joining the youth group on their midwinter retreat. It was so much fun and as I sit here, on MLK Day, reflecting on that experience, I realize that there is something that happens on every youth trip that is pretty unique to youth events.
The photo shows the youth in the middle of a game that some cruel youth leader invented. Each team had to pick up three dozen tennis balls without using their hands, put them in a bucket and then carry that bucket across the yard by only using 6 foot ropes. Then they had to figure out a way to dump the tennis balls from one bucket into the other, all while remaining six feet away. You can see this dumping process in the photo above.
The point of this game seems like it’s to get the tennis balls into a second bucket, but in reality the point is to get fifteen youth, who all have their own ideas for how to accomplish the task, to work together and complete the goal as a team. This sort of thing happens at every youth event, but doesn’t really happen anywhere else, except for maybe the occasional corporate retreat.
This type of team building exercise might sound foreign to most adults, but it is completely normal in the youth ministry world. Teams are normal in the youth ministry world. Compromise and friendship are normal. Sure there are frustrations and arguments, I mean even in this game pictured above there was a fair share of yelling and apologies, that’s just a part of learning to work together. But the point is, at the end of the day, everyone at that retreat felt like one group. That evening, we shared communion as one body of believers and that was a truly holy moment.
As I left that retreat and came back to the “real world” I was confronted by the realities that coincide with this day, January 19th. I am thankful for the day off from work, so that I can sleep in, catch up on some work and even go see a movie later tonight! But this day is different from just an ordinary holiday. It is a day in which we celebrate the life and work of a man who fought for justice, hope, dignity and the rights of all people.
As adults, we don’t often play team-building games. Conflict is a natural part of our lives, but sadly those conflicts are not always resolved as easily or quickly as they were this weekend with the youth. Conflict is a part of our daily lives, but unfortunately, division, violence and hatred are also a normal part of our society. I am thankful for youth retreats, and I am thankful for Martin Luther King, Jr. Above all, I am thankful for a God who desires for the normalcy of our lives to be hope, love and compassion. I leave you today with this powerful quote from Dr. King:
“The only normalcy that we will settle for is the normalcy that recognizes the dignity and worth of all of God’s children. The only normalcy that we will settle for is the normalcy that allows judgment to run down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream. The only normalcy that we will settle for is the normalcy of brotherhood, the normalcy of true peace, the normalcy of justice.” – MLK, Address at the Conclusion of the Selma to Montgomery March
What is your normalcy?
Have a wonderful week my friends,