Last weekend, we hosted a Chi-Rho retreat (grades 6th-8th). We had around 100 in attendance and had a blast. The theme of the retreat, in conjunction with St. Patrick’s weekend, was that we are all saints. In the first keynote (after decorating several kids from head to toe in green—including green hair spray), we focused on the life of St. Patrick and seven characteristics of saints in today’s world: 1) all saints are filled with the love of God; 2) all saints love other human beings; 3) all saints are risk takers; 4) all saints posses humility and humbleness; 5) all saints are people of prayer; 6) all saints are not perfect; and 7) all saints are people of their times. After discussing each of these characteristics (especially number seven), I invited anyone who was comfortable to come forward and name a saint in their life and explain why those chose this person.
I was incredibly impressed with the individuals our youth chose as saints and their reasons for doing so. Answers ranged from youth ministers and parents, to siblings and friends. Everyone seemed to really grasp the concept that we are all indeed saints and that being a saint doesn’t mean you are perfect in every way.
Throughout the weekend, we kept returning to the seven characteristics. As part of the closing worship, each small group was assigned one of the characteristics and asked to work together to create an expression of that characteristic. The results were great and included special prayers, art, songs, and a variety of skits.
In addition to small groups and keynotes, we also had special interest groups: games, cooking, planning the closing worship, Christian themes of Harry Potter, crafts, and meditation.
I agreed to lead the meditation, guessing it would be everyone’s last choice. I was really surprised when I saw the sign-up list and realized that a number of 6th and 7th grade boys had willingly signed up. After the meditation, the youth discussed how their lives are so busy and they never have time to relax. I’m a bit troubled that youth in grades 6th-8th already feel the pressures of life. Maybe meditation should be a weekly part of our youth group?