By Paige K Slighter
“Just for a moment, let’s be still.” – Lyrics from the band The Head and the Heart
Echo, our youth ministry for 7-12th graders, is taking a counter-cultural approach to Advent this season and stepping away from the spirit of go-go-go. Instead, they’re pausing to experience the Holy Spirit and the simplicity of Christ. Between all of the parties, shopping and gift exchanges, it’s easy to overcomplicate and overlook the deeper meaning of Christmas. That’s why Echo’s staff planned their pre-Christmas gatherings to create space for students to slow down and acknowledge the significance of Jesus’ birth, as well as their own emotions and needs. Instead of planning lessons that were heavy on teaching, they have been encouraging the youth to open their hearts and receive.
On Wednesday nights, every style of connecting with Jesus is safe and welcome. Students share poems and songs, dance joyfully, write and pray with their heads bowed. They also light the traditional Advent candles and as each candle glows, they examine their hearts and answer questions pertaining to joy, love, peace and hope. What is something in your life that feels joyful? What is something that feels hopeless? Where do you need peace? When do you feel loved? Together, on a large piece of butcher paper, each person writes a beautiful and vulnerable response.
As the Echo staff has been taking it all in, they’ve been struck by the passionate example of our students. They are pulled away from their busy lives to participate in something intimately sacred, even if it’s just for a moment.