This image of a raised bed has been on the Parents of CAYG facebook page for a while now, with the explanation below: “a metaphor for my hopes for youth group – good content and structure to help our youth grow and flourish.”
At the beginning of my fifth year here at Ascension, the ‘raised bed’ was the three-year cycle of six big themes, the annual pattern of retreats, marathon overnights, Christmas movie-making, the evening rhythms of Friday and Sunday nights, the volunteer training and celebrations, the mission trips, the two-year confirmation process with guest speakers and mentors etc etc.
And then COVID. And the raised bed collapsed. No longer singing ‘blessed be your name’ with arms around shoulders, deep conversations on comfy couches, dodge balls flying through the air, big feasts in the parish hall, laughter and prayer huddles etc. Instead we pivoted and created livestreams, zoom groups, and Bible studies in back yards. So what?
I was reflecting this evening that, even though I have been devastated by the loss of something we had spent so many years building, the raised bed was only the means, not the end. It was just providing content and structure to help our youth grow and flourish, to become confident Christians in community, to be a Christ-centered and open-hearted youth group dedicated to fostering faithful disciples, through worship, service and the teaching of Biblical truth.
Listening to the prayers and insights of some of our CAYG grads at our Venite college Bible study this evening reminds me that, even without the raised beds, there is still plenty of encouraging fruitfulness for which we can thank God.
The raised beds might change, but it is God who brings the growth.
Right now the team and I are in the process of designing a new set of COVID-resistant ‘raised beds’ for the fall, so watch this space. I am excited about the plans being developed so far!
But August is going to be quiet on the CAYG front; still, do be in touch and let me know how I can be praying for you.