Telemarketers can be annoying, but they can also be a source of mild entertainment. Especially the ones who call the church hawking the latest Christian trinket. I particularly enjoy this type of conversation, which happens once a month or so:
"Hello, Sycamore Reformed Presbyterian Church."
"Yes, this is Christy from Teen Rage with an exciting offer that will help your youth love Jesus! May I speak to the director of your youth group, please?"
"We don't have a youth group."
"Oh," followed by the long pause of a telemarketer who doesn't have that response on her script. "Ok, well, thank you," spoken with the voice of one who has mistakenly dialed up a leper colony.
Our congregation really doesn't have a youth group, but this blog is not an anti-youth group rant. Rather, I wanted to tell you that I've just enjoyed a great summer hanging out with youth, be it my own youth group of six kids at my house, the young people in the congregation, or those at church camps and conferences. The highlights:
1) Monday through Wednesday of this week we had our second annual Youth Summer Service Project (YSSP) at the church. Fifteen teenagers attended. The three days started with devotions, ended with a fun time at Kokomo Raceway Park on Wednesday, and contained tons of hard work and laughs in the middle. What spectacular results were accomplished! They transformed from drab to classy two classrooms; either threw out or organized thousands of piles of stuff around the building, in the process finding many items lost for years; cleaned, waxed and polished everything in sight and even things that were not; weeded and trimmed hedges; changed a paint-peeling, uninviting nursery to a welcoming, bright environment (that wasn't even supposed to be on the list); and much, much more. And it was all done with nary a complaint or problem! I praise the Lord I was able to be with Hannah, Breanna, Emily, Megan, Luke, Rachel, Haley, Addie, Moriah, Chelsea, Kaitlyn, Melanie, Jamey, Lindsay and Trevor these days, and for all the others in the church who prepared for and supported their efforts. Thanks especially to Jason & Jenny!
2) I brought four messages to about 45 youth at our denomination's Youth Leadership Conference July 21-24 from Psalm 110 on the topic Bound to the Crown: Held Captive by Our Wills in Service to Christ. As this psalm speaks of the kingly power of Jesus Christ, verse 3 tells us one of the dramatic impacts that will occur: "Your people will volunteer freely in the day of Your power; in holy array, from the womb of the dawn, Your youth are to You as the dew." That verse promises that Christ will bring forth the covenant young people to live holy lives and offer themselves in service to their King, bringing refreshment and life to the church. As we see serious-minded youth throughout the RPCNA giving themselves to such things as mission work home and abroad, spending three weeks at Theological Foundations for Youth learning at our seminary and serving in local churches, or being vital parts of their local congregations, we are witnessing Jesus fulfill this promise in our midst. Thanks especially to Will & Sarah!
3) We've been busy preparing and getting ready for our fifth year of Sycamore Covenant Academy (SCA), a supplemental educational and discipleship program for home educating families. We have more teachers (six) this year offering classes and more students (pushing 40) than ever, and beyond my regular classes of Beginning Greek and Algebra II I get to teach an Old Testament Survey Class. I'm looking forward to an exciting year.
4) With Jamey starting full-time at IUK, Lindsay entering her senior year and taking classes both in Marion and Indianapolis, Trevor being the first kid to get to play two sports in our family (on a soccer team in addition to basketball), Emory continuing to progress in violin and taking lessons on the north side of Indianapolis, Spencer incredibly entering the fourth grade (it does not seem possible), and Celia turning four with her latest trick being dragging a yo-yo behind her like a dog she calls "O-yo," Miriam and my cup runneth over with youth activities. (And no, Honey, Celia does not need a pet, despite what you said. See how busy we are? And she's got lizards, remember?)
5) Sitting on the window sill of my office is a card with a picture of three kids on a bike being followed by a dad on a small bike with training wheels. Inside it says, "Happy Father's Day to the Biggest Kid on the Block." With all this activity, our neighborhood "Cops & Robbers" games have been too few this summer. But the kids haven't forgotten - I just got asked this week by one of the little neighbors if I could come out and play. That's my plan this Friday night, Lord willing.
So we may not have a youth group, but I hope I am never too old to be a youth groupee.