This evening started off a bit different from most. During the week a man from our church passed away from a heart attack. The wake was being held in the next town during the same time as youth group. I decided to drive our church van (big blue) and bring a group of students to pay respect, offer condolences, and ministry to his widow. It ended up being such a profoundly powerful moment for our students to truly enter into the suffering of another and understand the depths of being united as a church family.
Well, back to the series on Clear: Theological Foundations of Faith.
We entered in Week 3 and discussed the Holy Spirit.
I received positive feedback from last week attempting to include more of our leaders into the creativity of the teaching time, so I planned to do the same. Unfortunately, four of them could not attend, so we were down a few capable adults (which happens from time to time)
1) We started again with a brief recap from the week before. Students shared the theme was about Jesus and we discussed the aspects of his humanity and divinity and the complexity and beauty of his two natures. A few even remembered the word and meaning of paradox! I asked them to remember and reflect on the importance of each and they responded quite well. His humanity shows that he understands what we go through, is approachable, and serves as our example. His divinity means that he can actually redeem and restore us to God. Both are uniquely important.
2) We had an opening prayer inviting the presence of the Holy Spirit to guide and guard our thinking and conversations (some good old illumination theology!)
3) Josh lead our opening activity and divided up the students into 5 groups. He gave each one an index card with verses on one side and a word symbolizing the Holy Spirit on the back side. They were tasked with reading the Scriptures and discovering what image or symbol the Holy Spirit was presented as, and then determine what that symbol says about who the Holy Spirit is or what role he/she provides. Each group would draw the image on construction paper and then come back into the youth room and hang it on the wall and share their discoveries.
Group 1: Dove (Mark 1:1-13)
Group 2: Oil (1 Samuel 16:13, Hebrews 1:8-9)
Group 3: Wind (Acts 2:1-4)
Group 4: Water (John 3:5, John 4:13-14, John 7:37-38)
Group 5: Fire (Acts 2:1-4, Exodus 3:1-3)
I was fairly impressed when all the pictures were hung up with the creativity (especially of oil!) of the images and the collective group response relating to what those symbols portray about the Holy Spirit.
Oil- anointing, healing, purity
Fire- passion, light, power, refinement
Water- cleansing, renewal, creation, rebirth, transformation
Wind- power, unseen, invisible, ever-moving, flowing, uncontrollable
Dove- peace, tranquility, love, unity, hope
The students came up with these on the own and I would later come back to these in prayer….
4) To begin my brief lesson part I played the video from Re:Form Confirmation entitled:
“What is the Holy Spirit? A Wind, Fire, Water, or What?”
This provided a very insightful (and humorous) take on the role, person, and function of the Holy Spirit within the Trinity.
5) I passed around the celtic image of the Trinity and had a student draw the image on the whiteboard. I explained (as best I could) how the Trinity was God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit (Three in One)
The Holy Spirit is a person (has emotion, a will, intelligence, self-awareness, etc..)
the Holy Spirit possesses the attributes of God (as discussed two weeks ago)
The Holy Spirit joins God in his work:
- active in creation
- inspired the prophets and writers of Bible
- conceived Jesus
- was attributed to the miracles of Jesus and his apostles
- brings about new birth and transformation
- bring peace, truth, healing, power, passion to God’s people
6) Touched briefly on healing and showed this clip about what not to expect…(apologies to any Benny Hinn followers out there!)
7) I explained that much of what we had thought about where ideas about the Holy Spirit, but we were about to enter into a time for reflection and invitation of the Holy Spirit into our realities.
A youth leader Will read the following two passages of Scriptures and explained that these were Jesus words to his follower about the role the Holy Spirit would play in our lives (and that it still applied today for us)
Jesus Promises the Holy Spirit John 14:15-27
15 “If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be[a] in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21 Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”
22 Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?”
23 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.
25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
7 But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8 When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 about sin, because people do not believe in me; 10 about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11 and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.
12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”
8) Instead of ending in our small groups (and kind of because we were short on leaders) I decided to spend the rest of our time in community inviting and embracing the Holy Spirit in our midst. I used about 10 minutes of “teaching time” plus the 30 minutes of small group time to create time and space for our students to encounter God’s Spirit.
My thought was (and is) how ironic would it be to talk for an evening about the Holy Spirit and yet provide little time or space to allow his presence to move? It would be like preaching for 45 minutes on worship and then ending the service with one closing song.
Why not worship the entire service and let that be your message?
So, we provided considerable time and concluded with communal reading, reflecting, worship, silence, and guided prayers.
9) A college student, Jenny, offered an opening prayer as our room transitioned from ordinary to sacred.
We lit candles throughout the room and had some soft Celtic contemplative worship music in the background
*please not that setting the environment in the just the right way does not make any place sacred. Rather, it is the collective spirit and invitation for God to enter and move that sets apart something or some place as holy)
My Life, my Love, my Strength
Come to my side now and always,
In all of my doubts, questions, and trials
Come, Holy Spirit Come.”
We played a great intro song from new band Rend Collective Experiment from Ireland
10) Jenny then guided our students in a time of reflective and personal prayers to the Holy Spirit.
There was approximately 1-2 minutes of silent pause in between each prayer offered:
Come, Holy Spirit, and pray for me.
Come, Holy Spirit, and convict me.
Come Holy Spirit, and teach me.
Come, Holy Spirit, and guide me.
Come, Holy Spirit, and fill me up.
Come, Holy Spirit, and make me Holy
I then played a song by Phil Wickham
After the song, there appeared to be a deep silence and peace in the room.
God was moving, speaking, convicting, challenging, inspiring, and loving
I offered a prayer thanking the Holy Spirit for being in our midst and revealing himself to us in ways which we needed
To those who need emotional, spiritual, or physical healing….the Oil signifies that you are our Healer
To those who need peace in the midst of anxiety, stress and being overwhelmed at school or home, the Dove signifies you are our Peace
To those who need passion and strength to overcome obstacles, temptations, fears, and sin, the Fire signifies that you refine and are Powerful
To those who need a new start, a cleansing, a rebirth of spirit, wholeness, the Water signifies that you quench every thirst and offer us New Life
To those who seeking to follow in the movement of God’s Spirit wherever He may lead, the Wind signifies that you are on the move though unseen
Lead us Holy Spirit. Free us Holy Spirit. Heal and Help us Holy Spirit. Move in our lives Holy Spirit.