Thursday, September 3, 2015

In Student Ministry, the Small Things Matter

I'm spending today with Lisa Jewett as she takes her first chemo treatment. Prayers are appreciated.

It is hard to believe that for 28 years hundreds of students chose to share their lives with the insane man shown dancing at a 60's Revival Night at TNT (Springfield Friends Meeting) in the early 1990's. But they did. Over the years of my ministry there were many big events and earth-shaking moments that I have written about in the pages of this blog. Today I want to take a look back at 10 moments that were perhaps a little more "under the radar," but that were significant to me. They made me laugh, cry or scream- or sometimes all three! In no particular order, here they are:

10)  Now Batting for Jesus-  For many years, beginning in the 1970's at New Garden Friends Meeting, I had been involved with youth groups leading Easter Sunrise services.  In 1995 we continued that tradition when the youth group led the service down by the lakefront in Kissimmee. We had a skit planned in which Matt Wheeler was to play Jesus. It was one of those years when daylight savings time began on Easter Sunday, and Matt didn't wake up in time. We had to "pinch hit" for Jesus at the last moment...and I am pretty sure we struck out!!!
9)  Cursing for Christmas-  One year around 1980 the youth group from New Garden went Christmas caroling. With us was a young woman named Pam, who attended a different school than any of the rest of kids and often felt a bit excluded. Pam had a gorgeous singing voice, and so trying to help her "fit in" I asked her to lead the singing. Pam had new retainer in her mouth that she was still adjusting to wearing, and it gave some words a slight slur. When we sang the holiday classic Silver Bells things got a little dicey. It sounded to all the world like she was singing, "It's Christmas time in the shi**y" instead of "in the city." We all had a great laugh, including Pam, and it was her welcome to the youth group moment. She went on to become one of that group's real leaders. Another case of an OOPS leading to something good.
8)  "Wuv...Twue Wuv"-  I cannot express how much it meant to me when Nate Hill and Amber Herrick came to me and asked me to officiate their weddings, years after I had been their youth pastor. It was two different weddings- they didn't marry each other...that would have just been weird!  :)  I also was blessed to do the service for Ken Jewett, and then in later years for Kathryn Martin and Jennifer Gastler. Such an honor.
7)  I Hear That A Lot-  A young woman came into my office at the Union Church of Hinsdale in 2000, crying and distraught. She was 16, had just wrecked her car for the third time, and daddy was refusing to buy her a THIRD new Porsche. I didn't need Toto to tell me I wasn't in Kansas anymore...
6)  SURPRISE!-  At the request of their parents, I helped put together surprise 16th birthday parties for best friends Heather Beggs and Keri Vinson in the youth room at Springfield Friends Meeting. The parties were just months apart and involved a lot of the same people, yet somehow they were both surprises. I loved being involved in the lives of the students I served. I will never forget that Heather's birthday is August 25th. She only gave us 18 months of weekly notices leading up to her 16th!
5)  Wet 'N' Wild-  Another Easter Sunrise in Kissimmee, another daylight savings time fiasco. The city forgot to reset the timers on the automatic sprinklers by the lakefront gazebo, and they came on during our service.  A mass baptism was held that day...
4)  Hide, It's the Cops!-  One more Easter Sunrise story, this one from Tampa. For reasons I never understood (for once the OOPS was not mine!), we decided to have the youth Praise Band play at an outdoor service in front of the church at 7 AM. It was great for passing traffic to see; it was not so great for the sleeping neighbors to hear. The police stopped by to inform of us of the complaints. We lived next door to the church, and I think one of the calls was from Marilyn...
3)  More Weddings-  I was privileged to sing in a number of weddings over the years, including those of former youth and co-workers. To Ken & GillyHolly & MarkMatt & KristinMike & RebeccaDebbie & TommyBeth & BobClaudia and all the others- thank you for letting me be a part of your special day. And for those whose weddings I was able to attend, thank you for the invitations.  It was always a "lump in my throat" kind of feeling to see friends beginning a new chapter of life.
2)  We Found A Friend-  While I was visiting Kissimmee from Chicago the week after attending Lisa Kraus's wedding, Amber Herrick called me about she and Chrissy Weaver coming by my motel to see me. I asked if my other "Angel," Lauren Carr, might also be coming. Amber said there had been a falling out (one of hundreds!) between them and they hadn't spoken in a while. When they stopped by a bit later, Lauren was with them.  It was so cool that they had reconnected over my visit. We then walked across the highway to Friendly's and had an amazing visit, with a conversation I will never forget. No matter how hard I try...   :)
1)  Every Single Time-  Each time one of my students, parents or co-workers came into my office to talk to me about life, it was a sacred moment for me. There are many stories to tell, but I will not tell them, because they were often deeply personal and intense. They were sometimes scary. Many times they were hilarious (Once in Tampa both the male and the female in a high school relationship came to me separately. They both wanted to break up.  Neither knew how to do it without "hurting" the other.  I could not make this stuff up!). But no matter the topic or the reason for the visit, each time anyone trusted me enough to come to me with their joys and concerns, I felt humbled and honored. And no matter how many big trips and huge events I was a part of, it was those moments that are closest to my soul as a servant of God. I just hope my prayers were of more use than the little bits of wisdom I had. And I am so glad that many still know that I am here if you need me. As the Stellar Kart song says, "remember you've got me and Jesus..."  And thank God it's mostly Jesus!

Because of Jesus,

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for reading,and thanks for your comment!