In February, the confirmation youth joined confirmands from throughout Upper Bucks at a retreat at Cross Roads Camp. The theme of our event was "In God we live, and move, and have our being." St. Paul says this in Acts 17:28, but he's actually quoting a 6th century B.C.E. Greek poet as proof that even those who think they don't know God are still connected to God.
What does that mean? Part of the story is the reality that God is truly present in our lives. The youth were asked to search out as many crosses as they could find, whether is was in ceiling tiles or fabric, tables or food, necklaces or trees. Cross-patterns appear everywhere, though we rarely notice them. Where have you noticed God's presence in the world?
The other part of the story is that every part of us exists in and is loved by God. To help us understand this, the youth made blobs of their outter selves (the parts of us the world gets to see and know) and our inner selves (the parts we don't show to must people or that other people don't often see). The self you feel safe to let others know about, and the things no one sees but yourself - all of you lives and moves and exists in God, and God's love embraces it all.
Throughout the weekend, we continued to explore what it means to be encompassed by God's love. What does it mean to live in God? What does it mean to move in God? What does it mean to be in God? This last question gave us a moment to think about how God can help us when there's so much stress in our lives that we simply need a chance to be. How does returning to God in prayer and meditation open us back up to the love of God all around us? Even something as simply as breathing in and, as you breath out, saying, "Jesus, have mercy on me," can recenter us on our call to be children of God.
Sunday morning, the youth were put in charge of leading the various elements of worship. The group I was blessed to get to lead was put in charge of the confession, and they came up with the brilliant idea of having everyone write down all the names they've ever called someone as a way to hurt them or make fun of them. After 3 minutes, people in the room were still writing down more and more names. One specific confession, and the youth couldn't exhaust all the things they had to confess. Then they were invited to come up and throw away all those hurtful names and hear again the good name God calls us: My beloved child.
Because that's what it means to live and move and have our being in God: Being able to say, "God, this is me, good and bad," and to hear God say, "Throw the bad away, because everything I love is good, and I love you through and through."