One of my favorite things to do when I was a Youth Minister was to go on retreats with young people. The opportunity to be together away from the normal routine helped us grow closer to each other and to God. During each retreat we would create rituals together that matched the theme of the retreat and the gifts of the youth in attendance. One retreat stands out in my mind all these years later.
We decided to do a blessing based on activities that each youth was involved in. We blessed the hands of youth that played instruments in their school bands. We blessed the mouths of youth who were on the debate team. A debate tournament was coming up just after this retreat, so this was very much on the minds of these youth. We blessed the feet of the youth who played soccer. Soccer was huge in the schools and communities represented in the youth group, so I remember many youth lining up for this blessing.
Blessing another person is a powerful faith building activity. Maybe this is why I remember this retreat all these years later. This retreat happened in the early 80s, I believe. I am dating myself here; I lived through the 80s and the 70s and the 60s. I was a Youth Minister in several different places for about 30 years so I have a lot of memories. This blessing was special for several reasons. The youth and I together had come up with the idea of blessing each other. I had served this congregation for several years, and had close relationships with the youth and their families.
Many years later, we were invited to the wedding of one of those youth. We had kept in touch with the family, even though we had moved thousands of miles away. Peter and his siblings had all been active in the youth ministry. In the middle of his wedding reception, Peter came up to me and thanked me for that blessing! I was completely overcome, and we shared the memory of that retreat for a few minutes. Peter remembered; it had influenced his life of faith, and for him to take the time to thank me at his wedding reception was a special gift.
We never know how God may work through our relationships. God is planting seeds all of the time; in ways we cannot know or even predict. Who might you be able to bless today? It can be a brief prayer, an act of kindness, a thank you note sent to someone. Think about how you may be able to lift that person up or think of a gift they have that’s been shared with you or your faith community. When you bless someone, they may carry it in their heart for years to come.
Lord and Savior, you work through our relationships in amazing ways. Lead me to someone who needs a blessing today. Help me affirm their gifts and thank them for their faith. May this blessing help your Spirit continue to be at work through me and through other people I meet. And may these gifts be multiplied throughout my relationships so that your love can continue to spread. Amen
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What a blessing you were to so many youth. God bless you!
Won’t we be surprised when we get to heaven and learn how our little, forgotten actions had actually been huge blessings to others.
We just never know. It’s wonderful when God encourages us with these surprises.
Thank you for your story, Diane.