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ELCA Youth Gathering

2018 ELCA Youth Gathering

June 27-July 1, 2018 in Houston, Texas

A++ Congregation

GENEROSITY

Bethlehem’s congregation continues to be a congregation of generosity. “Sharing the Bread of Life with a Hungry World” is distinct part of our faith forming culture emboldening passionate serving and giving. The passionate response of generosity also is present in the response from our youth going to the ELCA 2018 Youth Gathering in Houston the end of June.

The Youth Gathering will lift up offering in three ways, In-kind Offering, Sunday Morning Offering, and Special Offering. Each will support unique missions and values of the ELCA and the Gathering.

Bethlehem is reaching for the stars in our response to the In-Kind Offering, “Blast Off for Books.” Many have already ordered books to help reach our goal. More information is available on Bethlehem’s website, www.bethlehemcf.org or on the Youth and Family Ministry bulletin board in the Fellowship Hall.

Bethlehem has a tradition of tithing the expected cost for our group to go to the Gathering. The Gathering Sunday Morning Offering will be collected during closing worship and will go toward three ministries, local, domestic, and global.

Texas Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod in thanksgiving for the hospitality and partnership as the hosting synod for the Gathering.

Prison Congregations of America through which Christian congregations are established in prisons around the country.

Global Ministries for raising up global new-start congregations.

The Gathering Special Offering will focus on a partnership with the ELCA World Hunger Global Farm Challenge. Our Bethlehem youth will have the opportunity during the Gathering to participate in an experience designed to immerse them in what it may be like to be a smallholder farmer around the world. Given the faith forming culture of generosity they’ve grown and participated in, we have an exciting opportunity to learn and share more coming soon.

Learn more about Youth Gathering Offering at: http://elca.org/YouthGathering/details/offerings

BLAST OFF FOR BOOKS

The 2018 ELCA Youth Gathering asks each congregation to support the Houston Literacy Campaign, "Blast Off for Books!" We will be collecting books for Houston's students, Pre-K through 6th grade with the goal of lifting up literacy in an area of the U.S. with very low literacy rates. Families struggle to provide books for their children to read at home. These books will be distributed at community book fairs, camps and other events around the city as part of our Service Learning Experience. We are asked to donate only from the list of books provided by the Houston Independent School District. Copies of this list may be found on Bethlehem's Youth & Family bulletin board in the Fellowship Hall or here. Books from the list may be dropped off at the church. Monetary donations are welcome as well. Please make checks payable to Bethlehem with “Gathering Books” clearly marked in the memo line.

At the same time, we also can help Orchard Hill School earn points for free books by ordering through clubs.scholastic.com and using code L4FTF, which Lisa Newgard has set up for us. She also will donate some of these points to order books for this service project. Scholastic often sells books at reduces rates. You are welcome to purchase books at stores on your own, or if you wish to donate money and have us order the books, that is great, as well! Checks may be payable to Bethlehem, with "Blast Off for Books-YG" in the memo.

The "Bethlehem 19" Gathering group hopes that you will prayerfully consider “Sharing the Bread of Life…” through this effort. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” This changes everything! Amen!

About the Gathering

Every three years, 30,000 high school youth and their adult leaders from across the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America gather for a week of faith formation known as the Gathering. Through days spent in interactive learning, worship, Bible study, service, and fellowship, young people grow in faith and are challenged and inspired to live their faith in their daily lives.

Gathering Bible Study:

Gathering For Purpose - May 2018

Living in community as God’s faithful people is a gift of love and an invitation to serve in mission. In this session, we will be focusing on understanding what God wants us to do in this world, using the talents God has given us. It’s not just the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” It’s what does God desire you to do in the world today, tomorrow and for the future?

Beginning Prayer: Empowering God, in our baptism, through the power of the Holy Spirit, you claim us as yours, surround us with the community of your chosen people, and encourage us to serve all. Help us recognize your call so that we may fulfill your invitation to the vocation you desire for us. Amen.

God’s Story – Scripture: We as Christians do hold “jobs” where we “work,” but as Christians, we have a wider understanding of “work.” In this session, we are going to look at our “work.” But we don’t call it “work or job” we call it “vocation.” We’ll look at this word “vocation” as we move through this session. But to start, vocation is more than a job, so keep an open mind as we learn more.

The story of Mary from Luke’s Gospel, Luke 1:26-56; 2:1-24

Read Luke 1:26-38 Vocational themes: • Mary: openness and willingness to accept God’s purpose for her • Angel: messenger, doing God’s work, teaching and interpreting, proclamation of God’s promises

Read Luke 1: 39-56 Vocational themes: • Mary: impending motherhood, proclamation, musician • Elizabeth: impending motherhood, proclamation, musician, hospitality

Read Luke 2:1-7 Vocational themes: • Mary and Joseph: faithfulness, travelers, obedient to authority, relationship and engagement to one another, parenthood

Read Luke 2:8-20 Vocational themes: • Shepherds: working (being shepherds, caring for the sheep), obedient, trusting, curious, proclamation • Angels: proclamation, reassuring, directors, musicians • Mary: reflection

Read Luke 2:21-24 Vocational themes: • Mary and Joseph: abiding by God’s law, being faithful to their beliefs, parents

Learn: Reflect upon and make a list of the gifts, talents and passions you have.

• Gifts: a special ability or capacity; natural endowment; talent

• Talents: a special natural ability or aptitude

• Passions: a strong or extravagant fondness, enthusiasm or desire for anything

Connect: Vocation definition: Where gifts, talents and passions collide is our vocation. Vocation is the thing(s) you are called by God to do, with gifts and talents God has given you, to which you commit your passion and excitement and energy for the sake of God’s creation. We all have more than one vocation. Our Christian vocations include our jobs, our roles as family members, our roles as friends, as neighbors, as citizen, and so on.

What do we see in Mary’s vocational journey that can help us understand our own? How have you experienced a change or growth in your own vocation? Do you see the things you are passionate about now being what you will do your whole life? How might they change as you grow? Are there changes that you are you looking forward to?

Vocation calling is a lifetime thing. This doesn’t happen overnight. Be open to how God is calling you today, tomorrow and in the future.

Sending Prayer: Blessed are you, O Lord our God. We lift our voices in thanksgiving for the many blessings you have given us. Renew in us the commitment to use our vocations in the service of others, especially of those in need. Through your son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

St. Paul reminded the community of the Ephesians: "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God."

Excerpts from the ELCA 2018 Youth Gathering Bible Study

Gathering for Advocacy: April 2018

Advocacy seeks to ensure that all people, particularly those who live at the margins or are vulnerable in our culture have their voices heard. Advocacy is not done on behalf of another group but calls us into partnership with those whose voices we wish to amplify. Each of us is called to be an advocate, to lend our voices to a cause that sparks passion in our hearts. Advocacy is a particular kind of leadership that each of us can engage in daily.

Beginning Prayer:

In your eyes, God, all life has dignity. All people are worthy of your love and care. None are left alone, none left behind: those who have no livelihood; the sick, the elderly and those with mental health challenges; the imprisoned and the migrant. All are your children, equally worthy of your blessings, and, in turn, equally worthy of the advocacy of the people of God. Christ is our voice in the world. Show us, Lord, how to love our neighbor and care for the ones lost to the flock. Jesus spoke so that we might understand. He taught, so that we might learn. He acted, so that we might effect change in our lives and the lives of others. And he gave his life so that we might live in the grace of God. Jesus’ Spirit remains with us moving us to look with different eyes, hear with the ears of one who loves their brother and sisters and act to ensure that life is protected in every way. As your church, we stand as one, asking for the protection of those who cannot protect themselves. We pray for justice for those who have no voice. In your name, we pray. Amen.

God’s Story – Scripture

Read Isaiah 1:17. Take a few minutes to reflect on the verse.

Next, read this quote: “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” – Howard Thurman, theologian and civil rights activist

Discussion:

What is God calling us to do in the Isaiah verse?

What are some ways you can live that out?

What makes YOU come alive?

What are your passions in life?

Are there places where God’s calling and your passion overlap?

What ways can you use your passions to live out God’s call to care for the oppressed?

Connect: When people attend the ELCA Youth Gathering, they become a part of one of the largest servant organizations in the country, a movement calling people to use their passions to service alongside others. For those going to Houston the movement doesn’t end after your day of service! We are called to continue and invite others into this movement in our own neighborhoods by using the skill of advocacy.

Engage: Use the ELCA Advocacy toolkit as a jumping point for advocacy work found here: elca.org/en/Resources/Advocacy#Toolkit.

Choose a cause and write that organization a letter asking how you can be part of that group’s work.

Sending Prayer: (Portions attributed to Martin Luther King Jr.)

God of compassion, “We need leaders not in love with money but in love with justice. Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter.” Let our voices not be silent but used to speak up for those who cannot be heard. Guide our actions and our voices to bring justice for all into this world. In your name, we pray. Amen.

Blessing and Sending:

When I say, “Stand up,” we all stand up. When I say, “Stand with,” put your arm around your neighbor’s shoulder. When I say, “Stand for,” mark the sign of the cross on the forehead of someone beside you.

The Lord be with you.

And also with you.

Mary was called to be the mother of God – to love, nurture, raise and protect Jesus until he was grown. Elizabeth was called to proclaim God’s amazing presence in our world. Joseph was called to protect Mary and Jesus and to publicly present Jesus to the world. The angels were called to proclaim Jesus’ birth and to encourage others to seek him out. The shepherds were called to seek Jesus and to proclaim his coming to others. God also has blessed you with a holy vocation:

Stand up – for those with no voice.

Stand for – justice for all people.

Stand with – all of God’s creation using your passions and your voice to bring justice to the world.

St. Paul reminded the community of the Ephesians: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” This changes everything! Amen!

Excerpts from the ELCA 2018 Youth Gathering February Bible Study

Gathering for Justice March 2018

This session, we gather for justice. We will learn about God’s heart for justice, what God’s justice looks like, and how both affect how we view and engage the problem of human trafficking, a form of modern-day slavery. Human trafficking is high on Houston’s radar. Because of Houston’s proximity to the borders, large sporting events and functions, human trafficking is a problem that the city is working hard to eliminate. By learning about this issue, we engage with Houston in its fight.

We are called to work for justice with God to restore humanity to right relationship with God and one another. Unfortunately, in our world there are many relationships that are broken, sick, and just plain wrong. Did you know that today there are between 20 million and 45 million people trapped in a form of modern-day slavery called human trafficking? In fact, there are more slaves today than at any other point in history. We are going to spend this time learning about the two most common forms of human trafficking, how Houston is working to end human trafficking, and how we can join God in the work to end it.

Beginning Prayer:

God of Justice, thank you for gathering us here to learn and talk about a problem that surely breaks your heart. You are the light of the world; shine in dark places. Enable those who work for justice, be with the humans trapped in slavery, and make us advocates for justice and peace. Amen.

God’s Story – Scripture

We are going to a look at a story in the Bible that features one form of human trafficking – labor trafficking. Read the story of Joseph being sold by his brothers – Genesis 37:12-28.

Discussion:

Read the story through twice. The first time, just listen. The second time, put yourself in the shoes of the characters in God’s stories. The characters are:

*God *Joseph *Joseph’s parents *Joseph’s purchaser *A bystander or witness

After the story, ask the following questions of the characters:

What jumped out at you this time around?

Who were you listening as?

What did you feel as that person?

How did listening to the story in this way, after learning about human trafficking, change how you heard it?

Did it add to or take away from the story?

Opportunities to learn more:

“MTV Human Trafficking” youtube.com/watch?v=A-UX EwQcy8 Red Sand Project: youtube.com/watch?v=jOw1o6VKbFU&t=2s

archives.relevantmagazine.com/reject-apathy/you-can-make-difference-fight-against-modern-slavery

Engage:

The following is from Relevant Magazine titled “You Can Make a Difference in the Fight Against Modern Slavery.” It lists 10 ways we all help bring about change.

1.Learn about it

2.Connect on social media

3.Give money

4.Consider foster care or support for at-risk kids

5.Buy fair trade every chance you get

6.Volunteer locally

7.Participate in Human Trafficking Awareness Month in January

8.Use your voice

9.Stop trafficking efforts in your community

10.Find your puzzle piece (what supporting the fight looks like for you)

More information, links, and helpful websites will be posted on the Youth & Family Ministry bulletin board in the Bethlehem Fellowship Hall.

Sending Prayer:

God of all people, stir us with discomfort, shake us from apathy, and call us to action. Be with those trapped in trafficking and sustain those who work to free them. We cry out for justice not without offering ourselves to be your hands and feet in the world. Amen.

Blessing and Sending:

When I say, “Stand up,” we all stand up. When I say, “Stand with,” put your arm around your neighbor’s shoulder. When I say, “Stand for,” mark the sign of the cross on the forehead of someone beside you.

The Lord be with you.

And also with you.

Mother Teresa was intolerant of poverty. Bono is intolerant of AIDS. Nelson Mandela was intolerant of apartheid. Martin Luther King Jr. was intolerant of racism. Jesus was intolerant of bigotry. God bless you with beautiful intolerance that you may:

Stand up – against evil.

Stand with – the marginalized.

Stand for – justice.

St. Paul reminded the community of the Ephesians: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” This changes everything! Amen!

Excerpts from the ELCA 2018 Youth Gathering February Bible Study

Gathering For Relationship February 2018

St. Paul reminded the community of the Ephesians: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” This changes everything! Amen!

As Christians, we are called to be in relationship. The Bible is about relationships: God’s relationship to us, our relationship to God, our relationships with each other. Today, relationships take on a warped reality as portrayed in our media, in our books, in all aspects of life. How do we live in relationship with one another as God desires for us? This month we’re going to focus on aspects of healthy relationships and how to nurture and sustain healthy relationships, and on aspects of unhealthy relationships and how to disengage from them.

Being in relationship also is about being in community. Community comes from building healthy relationships with those we know and those we don’t, with those who are different from us: those who think differently, speak differently, and look differently. These differences are a building block to healthy community.

Beginning Prayer:

God of love, you ask us to be in relationship with one another. In a world where the messages of relationships are unrealistic or completely warped, please open us to learning how you want us to be in relationship. We ask for guidance as we learn the desires you have for our lives. In your name, we pray. Amen.

God’s Story – Scripture

The Ancient Greek text of the New Testament has several words that mean love. We’re going to look at the differences between a couple of these. The first is “phileo” (prounounced: phil-E-o transliteration). Phileo is the kind of love for a friend (Philadelphia is called the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia is the Greek word for brotherly love.).

Read John 11:1-3 and discuss:

We see in this passage that Lazarus was a friend of Jesus, along with his sisters, Mary and Martha. How does our world define “friend” love?

The next kind of love is “agape” (prounounced: a-ga-pAy transliteration). Agape is called out of one’s heart. It is the noblest word for love in the Greek language. Agape is not fueled by the worth. It comes in its own God-given nature. Agape love delights in giving. This love keeps on loving even when the loved one is unresponsive, unkind, unlovable and unworthy. It is unconditional love.

Read John 3:16, Matthew 5:44, and John 14:21a and discuss:

God so “loved” (agape) that God gave God’s Son. It did not feel good to God to do that, but it was the loving thing to do. Christ so loved (agape) that he gave his life. He did not want to die, but he loved, so he did what God required. A father who loves a sick child and stays awake all night with his child is an act of agape love.

Agape love is not an impulsive thing that comes from feelings. Agape love is a deliberate choice. Therefore, God can command us to love our enemies (Matthew 5:44). God is not commanding us to “have good feelings” for our enemies but to act lovingly toward them. Agape love is related to obedience and commitment and not necessarily feeling and emotion. Loving someone is to obey God.

The way to show that we love (agape) God is to keep God’s commandments. Jesus said, “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me” (John 14:21a).

Why do we struggle keeping the commandments?

How can we help keep each other accountable to these commandments?

Read Hebrews 10:24-25 and discuss:

How are we to be in our relationships, with both friends and romantic partners?

How is this different from what society tells us?

Read Ephesians 4:29-32 and discuss:

What examples of relationships are given here?

How can we do these in our relationships?

How is this different from what society tells us?

Sending Prayer:

God of relationships, you created us to be in relationship. Help us to have healthy relationships, displaying those things from ourselves that we want to have from others. Give us the strength and wisdom to recognize toxic relationships and end them to keep ourselves safe. We are worthy of love because you first loved us. Let us show that love in the world. In your name, we pray. Amen.

Blessing and Sending:

When I say, “Stand up,” we all stand up. When I say, “Stand with,” put your arm around your neighbor’s shoulder. When I say, “Stand for,” mark the sign of the cross on the forehead of someone beside you.

The Lord be with you.

And also with you.

Help us remember to live in the beauty of healthy relationships. Give us the strength to leave a toxic relationship. Let us:

Stand up – against toxic and abusive relationships.

Stand with – those who are alone or in a toxic relationship.

Stand for – changing the world. All people deserve healthy relationships, and we need to be models of these relationships.

Gathering For Love January 2018

St. Paul reminded the community of the Ephesians: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” This changes everything! Amen!

As people of faith who believe that we are each made in God’s image, we are invited to see the fullness of who people are – their physical characteristics, their hurts, their joys, their struggles and anything that affects their quality of life. The recognition that people’s identities can overlap and that this can contribute to privilege or discrimination is the basis of the concept called intersectionality. This lens is important as we seek to understand each other and see each other through the lens of Imago Dei – image of God.

Beginning Prayer:

God of love who created us in your image, help us look beyond just one thing to really see each other, to see the deeper parts of who we are created to be and how our unique creation forms and shapes us in the world. Open our eyes to see. In your name, we pray. Amen.

God’s Story – Scripture

Isaiah 64:8

How have we been made?

What does a potter know about its creation?

Psalm 139:14

What does it mean to be fearfully and wonderfully made?

Why do you think the Psalmist used those words?

John 15:16

What does it mean to be chosen by God?

How do we bear fruit? What is that?

Sending Prayer:

Thank you, God, for helping us increase our awareness of the uniqueness of one another. Thank you for helping us see that we are multi-dimensional people, not just one thing. Thank you for raising our awareness and reminding us to do this at all times because you have made us wonderfully and beautifully. Amen.

Blessing and Sending:

To love others, we need to love ourselves. This is a foundational component to building community and building on social justice. Seeing ourselves as created beautifully by God (as God sees us) opens us up to seeing others through that same lens of how God sees us and loves us. God’s love through Jesus changes everything. Living in that love we can share that image of a loving God with the world we live in. Share this love – the love of God through Jesus that changes everything!

When I say, “Stand up,” we all stand up. When I say, “Stand with,” put your arm around your neighbor’s shoulder. When I say, “Stand for,” mark the sign of the cross on the forehead of someone beside you.

The Lord be with you.

And also with you.

Help us remember to be aware of the fullness of all people, not just one thing, and that this all comes through the image of God. Therefore, let us

Stand up – against a world that sees only one part of each other.

Stand with – those who are faced with this reality daily.

Stand for – changing the world, that the most important image is the one that we are created by God.

Go in peace. Serve the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

Excerpts from the ELCA 2018 Youth Gathering December Bible Study

Gathering For Compassion December 2017

St. Paul reminded the community of the Ephesians: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” This changes everything! Amen!

December can be a difficult month for those suffering with a mental health disorder. The crazy schedules of the holidays, expectations to enjoy a variety of gatherings, changes in weather, shorter days, the list goes on as to why this month can be particularly tough. We want to be aware and compassionate with those who may not fully enjoy the “most wonderful time of the year.”

Beginning Prayer:

God of presence, you promise you are with us always. Let us feel your presence. When we struggle with your promise, give us someone to be with us in that lost place. Let each of us be someone who bears your love to someone who is feeling darkness. We ask for strength and compassion as we learn about mental health. In your name, we pray. Amen.

God’s Story – Scripture

Mark 5:1-20

“Legion” means the man was possessed. What do we think causes mental illness?

How was the man treated for his mental illness?

How does that compare with how we treat people today? Now let’s look at what Jesus has to say about illness and sin.

John 9:1-12 We see in this passage that Jesus did not blame people for getting sick. Jesus clearly states that their illness was not the result of anything they did wrong or any sin they committed.

How did the disciples react to the man’s blindness?

How can we help people realize that their illness is not their fault?

Jesus reached out to, defended and healed people with mental and physical disorders, even though the society he lived in forbade him to do so. How does our society treat those with mental health disorders?

1 Thessalonians 5:11

Mental health disorders are difficult to live with.

This passage reminds us how we are to be living examples of God’s love in the world.

Sending Prayer:

God of comfort, relieve those who are troubled in mind and spirit. Bring them hope, peace and the strength of a loving community. Grant patience and courage to the families and friends of those who are ill. Increase their ability to withstand as they face challenges for their loved one. Protect and defend those living with mental health disorders from exploitation, addictions and abuse. In your name, we pray. Amen

Blessing and Sending:

When I say, “Stand up”, we all stand up. When I say, “Stand with,” put your arm around your neighbor’s shoulder. When I say, “Stand for,” mark the sign of the cross on the forehead of someone beside you.

The Lord be with you.

And also with you.

Help us identify mental illness as the disease it is, that we might have courage and wisdom in the face of ignorance and stigma. Inspire us as we seek to overcome fear, acquire knowledge, and advocate for compassionate and enlightened treatment and services. As we move out into the world let us:

Stand up – against the stigma of mental health disorders.

Stand with – those who suffer with a mental health disorder.

Stand for – better treatment options and accessible care for all in need.

Go in peace. Serve the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Call 1-800-273-8255

The National Alliance on Mental Health: nami.org

nami.org/getattachment/LearnMore/Mental-Health-by-theNumbers/childrenmhfacts.pdf

nami.org/NAMI/media/NAMI-Media/Infographics/NAMI-Want-to-know-how-to-help-a-friend.pdf

nami.org/NAMI/media/NAMI-Media/Infographics/NAMI-Getting-the-Right-Start.pdf

Additional information: walkinourshoes.org/myths-vs-facts

Excerpts from the ELCA 2018 Youth Gathering November Bible Study

Gathering for Home November 2017

St. Paul reminded the community of the Ephesians: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” This changes everything! Amen!

This session will look at the complexities of homelessness. We will learn that there is a whole lot behind getting to the point of homelessness. Remember we can’t just hear one story. We need to hear many stories to get a deeper sense of this issue.

Beginning Prayer:

God heard the cries of those without homes and that working for justice with and for people experiencing homelessness is doing God’s will and work in our world.

Christians love does not provide ready-made, one-size-fits-all solutions to the crisis, but the message calls Christians to work with those experiencing homelessness in their struggles and provides guidance as together we pursue just, appropriate, and sustainable solutions that uphold human dignity. In your name, we pray. Amen.

God’s Story – Scripture

Mark 5:1-9: Homelessness Insights

Why is this man experiencing homelessness?

How does this man relate to Jesus?

What question does Jesus ask this man?

What does Jesus’ question teach us about relationship with people experiencing homelessness?

Why is knowing someone’s name important?

Matthew 25:34-46, Food, Shelter, and Wellness: Moving to Action

What categories in this passage might people experiencing homelessness fit into?

Where do we see these categories in our local contexts today?

This passage is a warning and teaching from Jesus about the responsibility of God’s people in his time.

What is our responsibility as God’s people to those experiencing homelessness:

See the ELCA’s social message on homelessness at elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/HomelessnessSM.pdf

Discuss:

What is the difference between labeling a person as “homeless” versus talking about a person as experiencing homelessness?

How can this language be applied to other life circumstances?

How does homelessness affect my life?

Who in our community is experiencing homelessness?

What efforts are we doing a as community to help end homelessness?

Sending Prayer:

Throughout his ministry, Jesus encountered and ministered to those who were experiencing homelessness. Those who were sick, lame, blind, mentally ill, discarded women, those experiencing extreme poverty. Those society shunned and cast out into the streets. Jesus himself experienced homelessness and was at the mercy of friends and followers to provide for his needs. God calls on us to provide homes with and for all humanity. May God bless you with and understanding of radical hospitality and a sense of home. Amen.

Blessing and Sending:

When I say, “Stand up”, we all stand up. When I say, “Stand with,” put your arm around your neighbor’s shoulder. When I say, “Stand for,” mark the sign of the cross on the forehead of someone beside you.

The Lord be with you.

And also with you.

Never take for granted that you have the safety of a physical home, the comfort of a spiritual home and faith community. May we always understand that we have a call to accompany and advocate for those who have less. May you be blessed with a sense of radical hospitality so that all might know the love and acceptance found in our home with Jesus Christ.

Stand up – using your feet to end homelessness.

Stand with – those experiencing homelessness or are close to that reality.

Stand for – justice meant for all people in all places.

Go in peace, walk with those experiencing homelessness!

Thanks be to God.

Excerpts from the ELCA 2018 Youth Gathering October Bible Study

Gathering for Reformation October 2017

St. Paul reminded the community of the Ephesians: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” This changes everything! Amen!

Beginning Prayer:

Martin Luther’s Morning Blessing: We give thanks to you, God, through Jesus Christ your dear Son, that you have protected us through the night from all harm and danger. We ask that you also protect us today from sin and all evil, so that our life and actions may please you. Into your hands we commend ourselves; our body, our soul, and all that is ours. Let your holy angel be with us, so that the wicked foe may have no power over us. Amen.

God’s Story – Scripture

Philippians 2:8-10

Discuss:

Why is it so hard for us to understand grace?

What commonly held life principle does it demolish? (That if we do good things, we get into heaven.)

Translate the words “grace” and “faith” into language a 10-year-old would understand.

Discussion continued:

The ELCA Youth Gathering theme verse is Ephesians 2:8 and the theme is “This changes everything” – God’s grace changes everything. What does that mean for us today?

Sending Prayer:

God of forgiveness, we give you thanks for those who work to reform our church and our society, and we recognize we are blessed by those who through your guidance work to improve our lives. We ask that you help us end injustice and inequality through the removal of faults or abuses. Together, we can celebrate Martin Luther, the Reformation, and that it is by the gift of God’s grace and through faith that we share in Christ’s suffering, resurrection, and eternal life. Amen.

Blessing and Sending:

When I say, “Stand up”, we all stand up. When I say, “Stand with,” put your arm around your neighbor’s shoulder. When I say, “Stand for,” mark the sign of the cross on the forehead of someone beside you. (You also may say the sending together.)

L: The Lord be with you.

P: And also with you.

Stand up – for reform, changing injustices.

Stand with – those working for reform for the benefit of all.

Stand for – justice meant for all people in all places.

God in peace, Serve the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

Excerpts from the ELCA 2018 Youth Gathering September Bible Study

Gathering for Community September 2017

St. Paul reminded the community of the Ephesians: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” This changes everything! Amen

Beginning Prayer:

by Mother Teresa:

Silence is prayer.

Prayer is faith.

Faith is love.

Love is service.

The fruit of service is peace. Amen.

God’s Story – Scripture

Philippians 2:3-4

Discuss:

What do you hear in these verses?

What mindset are we to have based on these verses?

How are we doing with that?

Why do you think we have such trouble with this as a mindset?

How can we change our mindset?

Sending Prayer:

As people of faith we are called to move beyond charity and enter into relationships with people who are different from us, to walk alongside them in their mission, and to join them in building a better world. Guide us in our efforts to do this. Open our hearts and minds to hear the multitude of stories, not just one. In Jesus name, Amen.

Blessing and Sending:

When I say, “Stand up”, we all stand up. When I say, “Stand with,” put your arm around your neighbor’s shoulder. When I say, “Stand for,” mark the sign of the cross on the forehead of someone beside you.

The Lord be with you.

And also with you.

Stand up - using your gifts to serve God.

Stand with - using your talents to care for God’s people.

Stand for - using your passions to better God’s creation and change the world.

God in peace, Serve the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

Excerpts from the ELCA 2018 Youth Gathering December Bible Study

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