Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Advent Conspiracy: Love All

We've talked about worshipping fully, spending less and giving more this Advent season...but what does it look like to love all?  If we are truly living in to God's calling on our lives, we will not only make it a point to spend time and do something special for our family and friends this Christmas.  We will also spread God's love to those we don't know...those who are often considered "the least of these" (see Matthew 25:31-46).  Before going up to watch the children's musical, we thought together of various ways we could  love all not just this Christmas, but into next year.  We brainstormed many local and global ideas of ways we could meet needs in our own community and around the world.  Then we decided on one local project and one global project we were going to commit to as the youth of Farmville United Methodist Church in the coming year!  The youth decided as a local project they wanted to fix some warm meals for those in need.  And as a global project, they want to collect and donate kids clothing and shoes for children in need around the world.  We will spend time after the new year working on details on how we are going to spread God's love in these ways!  I am so proud of our youth.  They are passionate faith filled teenagers that really want to make a difference in this world.  They jump at opportunities to do mission work and consistently share God's love with those around them.  They have embraced this Advent Conspiracy and are thinking about how they can "do Christmas" differently this year.  I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas.  May God bless you and your family, and may you share that blessing with everyone you see.  Peace!

A few pictures from the Children's Christmas Musical: Silent Night, Holy Mice!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Advent Conspiracy: Spend Less & Give More

Christmas has turned into a lot of this: Consumerism.  We easily fall into the trap of worshipping during Christmas by buying a lot of stuff.  Stuff that is often pretty impersonal and ends up in a closet, attic, or garage shortly after the hype of Christmas is over.  This Advent season, our youth are thinking about ways that we can celebrate the real reason for the season: the birth of our savior, Jesus Christ!

We've all received impersonal gifts in our lives...that fruitcake from your neighbor, the t-shirt that immediately goes in the pile to give to goodwill, or maybe that book that you know you will never read.  I'm willing to bet, though, that you've probably been the giver of some of these impersonal gifts as well.  That co-worker that you just feel obligated to get something for or your crazy Aunt who you never know what to get.  Impersonal gifts are just so easy!  No time or energy goes in to them.  They are convenient.  And often, they are exactly the things that the stores and TV commercials and advertisements try to persuade you to buy.

But what if Christmas looked differently?  What if we started spending less on the impersonal stuff that doesn't mean anything to anyone (giver or receiver), and started giving more in ways that please God, share God's love with others and mean something to both the giver and the receiver?  What might that look like?

Well maybe it would look like buying a chicken or a pig through World Vision to help a family in need and purchasing it in honor of one of your family members.  Maybe it would look like spending time with a friend or family member that could really use the company this holiday season.  Maybe it would look like creating a photo album of favorite pictures of you and the recipient.  Whatever it looks like, it's probably going to cost you in time and energy, but isn't that what God calls us to?  God doesn't ask us to buy each other stuff.  God asks us to be present with one another, to reconcile broken relationships, to be in community with one another, and to serve one another.

And God calls us to go beyond our own families and friends to share God's love with everyone all around the world!  What might that look like?  On Sunday night, the youth drew pictures of what God's love might look like to give to kids living on the streets in Uganda, Africa.

As you prepare your hearts for Christmas this Advent season, I challenge you to re-think the way you will do Christmas this year.  How might you give relationally rather than impersonally?  How might you spread the love of God this Christmas by spending less and giving more?  Enter the Christmas story, and spread the good news that God sent his son to live among us and truly be Immanuel, God with us!

Don't forget to register for the Farmville District Youth Retreat by this Friday, December 16th at noon!  The retreat is January 6-8th at Blackstone Conference and Retreat Center for youth in grades 7-12.  Contact me if you need a copy of the registration forms!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

High School Conference Retreat

We had a blast at the high school conference retreat at Eagle Eyrie this year!  We ate good food, worshipped with a great speaker and band, packed over 800 hygiene kits, had some awesome small group time, made new friends and played some great games!  Check it out:

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Everyone had a great time at Longwood University's performance of Godspell this past Sunday!  We laughed a lot and loved seeing the Gospel of Matthew come to life.  We had a good discussion about the musical back at the church afterwards over dinner.  Take a look:

Don't forget: THIS SUNDAY, November 27th, we will NOT have a regular FUSION Gathering meeting.  Instead, you are asked to help serve the church and come help with the Kids Night Out event at church from 3-7pm!  We can use your help for all or part of the event...come for as much as you can!  Kids 4 years old and up from our church and community will be watching the new Veggie Tales movie, decorating gingerbread cookies and making Advent calendars.  We could really use your help with this great event!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Speak Series: Being Faithful for a Lifetime

This was the last Sunday in our Speak Series: Obeying the Call.  We've talked about what it looks like to live out God's call on our lives, what it looks like to be a disciple of Christ and what it looks like to make disciples of Christ.  Sunday night we focused on how we can continue to be faithful our whole lives.  We talked about things that make it difficult to have faith and be faithful in our world today.  We talked about things that challenge our faith.  And we thought about things we can do as faithful Christians to help others who are going through difficult times.

This past weekend, a freshman at Prince Edward High School committed suicide.  Several of our youth were friends with him and are obviously having a difficult time with his death.  FUSION Gathering on Sunday night offered them a safe place to mourn, to pray, and to be in the presence of friends who love them a lot.  What a blessing it is to be in ministry with youth who care so much for each other and have committed their lives to God.  Our prayer circle was filled with prayers for the student's friends and family, along with a praise that he is at peace and in a better place now.  May we all place this Scripture on our hearts this week as we pray together as a community in pain, "For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."  Romans 8:38-39.  May God be with you in whatever difficult time you may be facing right now.  Amen.

Middle School Conference Retreat

We had a blast at the middle school conference retreat at Eagle Eyrie this past weekend!  The theme was "Words with Friends" and we explored the words: Kingdom of God, Justice, Faith and Evangelism.  Amanda Garber, pastor at RISE: A United Methodist Faith Community, was an awesome keynote speaker, and everyone enjoyed the Logan Jones Band.  Take a look:

Don't forget the registration deadline for the High School Conference Retreat is THIS FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 18th!  Get your forms and money in to me this week.  It's going to be awesome!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Speak Series: I'm Supposed to Do What?

Up until now, we've been talking a lot in this series about how God calls us to live as Disciples.  This week, we focused on God's calling on our lives to go and MAKE disciples!  We took a good look at evangelism...what it means, how God calls us to share the good news with others, and what kinds of styles we should probably stay away from when we evangelize.  We took time traveling around the room writing our answers and thoughts to several questions:

  • What reasons do Christians have for evangelizing?
  • What are some of the common fears Christians have about sharing their faith?
  • In your opinion, how should a Christian evangelize?  What methods or styles are most appropriate?
  • What are the most important ideas to share--or questions to ask--when you're talking to someone about your faith?
After talking through our responses, we watched this video: The Skinny on Evangelism by the Skit Guys which is a great funny movie that displays a lot of the not so great ways to go about evangelizing, as well as a true story from their lives of a great example of evangelism.

Then we got into pairs and looked at two stories in the Bible of evangelism: John 4:27-42 and Acts 17:22-34.  Both of these stories have similarities and differences...can you name some?

God calls us to share the Good News using both our words and our actions!  How we live as disciples can be an important witness to others, and we are also called to talk with others about our faith.  What's important is that we do these things in love.  Pressuring someone into being a Christian or coming to church is not how God calls us to act.  We are to love others, encourage them and share in conversation with them.  Before closing in prayer, we came up with our "Most Wanted" list.  We prayerfully considered someone in our lives that we need to commit ourselves to sharing the Good News with.  We then wrote that person's initials on a specific side of the chalkboard.  We will continue to check back with one another to see what ways we have loved this person and shared the Good News with them.  Who would be on your "Most Wanted" list?  Prayerfully consider who that person might be, and comment on this post with their initials.  I will add your responses to our most wanted list as we continue to pray for those on the list and each other.

This Friday, I will be venturing to Eagle Eyrie in Lynchburg with 7 of our fantastic middle schoolers for the Virginia Conference Middle School Retreat!  Then I will see everyone else on Sunday night for FUSION Gathering at 6pm!  I hope everyone has a great week!