On the recent youth retreat

There was shock (and a little awe) when I told the kids on the way to the sled hill that I had never once been sledding. It made it all the more special as they gave me pointers to go faster and casually told me, “you’ll be fine” when I looked at them in horror after being told to just bail out at the bottom (for the record, it was more than fine).

Our 2019 Youth Retreat was filled with so many treasures like this: the joyful laughter of elbow tag, new friendships being formed, old bonds strengthened, and opportunities to have real talk about God. When we got to the camp’s rec center Saturday night the boys picked up a couple of basketballs and started playing Knockout. It brought a huge smile to my face as memories flooded back about hot July’s in Texas playing Knockout with my friends and counselor at camp.
The program itself was an opportunity for me to get to open up to my new youth group even more. I shared with them the words that I have tattooed on my foot, “Do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8). I shared how those words give meaning to my life and that what God wants isn’t the ritual and show of a church service, but hearts that live to serve God and others.
We talked about how justice isn’t about “good guys” bringing “bad guys” to justice, but rather the healing of people and institutions because “good guys” and “bad guys” are all children of God. We discussed why being kind is so much more important than being right, and how joy comes from giving of ourselves to others. Finally, we learned about how Jesus, God made man, humbled Himself by washing his disciples dirty, disgusting feet.
I believe the difference between someone who does justice, loves kindness, and walks humbly and those with the “act now, ask forgiveness later” mentality that the prophet Micah railed against thousands of years ago is an understanding that we are beloved children of God. I pray that we may all know this truth and that we can all see the ways that God shows humility in God’s walking with us.  Amen. 

John Putnam
Youth & Children Minister