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Pouring from an Empty Cup

5th Sunday after Epiphany Mark 1:29-39

“Jesus replied ‘Let us go somewhere else- to the nearby villages- so I can preach there also. That is why I have come'” – Mark 1:38

This week has been tough, for those of you who have been following along you know I lost someone close to me recently. Well, life doesn’t stop for grief, and this past week my Grandmother was admitted to the hospital with heart and lung problems. So the trite cliche is ever so true here… when it rains it pours.

However, Jesus was no stranger to the outpouring of problems. People sought him out to heal their illnesses, drive out demons, and to learn anything they could from his teaching. In this passage he heals the mother-in-law of Simon, as well as many more people who showed up at the door for his healing touch.

Its no surprise that in the morning the disciples couldn’t find him, because he had gone to pray alone. The phrase “you can’t pour from an empty cup” has become widely used in the conversation surrounding self-care. In fact, self-care has become a hot topic in our society as of late. I’m not talking about getting massages, or taking long hot baths (although that sounds great), I’m talking about actually making sure you are taking care of yourself.

Are you eating foods that fuel your body? Are you making sure your muscles get used instead of atrophy? Has your mind been engaged with a good book or intellectual conversation? Do you have time to check in with your soul, or talk to someone about your spiritual life? Unfortunately for many of us the answer is no.

For those of us who are caretakers, of small children or those of us in sandwich generations who care for small children and adults in our lives, we often don’t take time for self-care. We tell ourselves the needs of others come before our own, and in some cases that’s true. I’m not going to read my book while my baby cries in his crib, but I can turn off the tv later in the day and read it while he plays. I’m not going to skip hospital visits to make sure I eat right, but I can make better choices before I leave the house instead of stoping for fast food.

Jesus took time alone, to fill up his own cup before he poured out blessings on other people. Find your time. Carve it out wherever you can get it, and fill up with whatever you need, so you can pour out to others in your life.

Games for Youth Ministry

I love games. Card games, sports, board games, silly messy games, love all of them. Growing up we played mother may I, red rover, freeze tag, and anything with a jump rope. As I grew older I can still remember late nights with my youth group friends playing card games, trivial pursuit, and even a crazy round of hide and go seek when we were snowed in Sophomores in college!

Games are sort of a universal language. I used to teach children who spoke languages other than English, and one of our favorite games was silent ball. There was not one kid, from those who were born in America, to those who were just of the plane from Iraq that didn’t love playing silent ball. Games transcend language and cultural barriers and create atmospheres of cooperation and joviality. I’ve watched students become best friends, with no common language, over a game of checkers.

Games are a huge part of what I do in ministry. Some people probably see my job as only games, especially the people who see the broken doors and muddy footprints that occasionally follow some of our more rowdy escapades. But games are important for ministry, not because we see our jobs as youth ministers as only ensuring our students are being entertained, but because games are a way in which we learn. Games can illustrate a theme for a lesson, set a mood for an event, or change a person’s perspective on a topic. They can also serve the purpose of creating community where we least expect it.

Recently, at an all church inter-generational event, I was asked to come up with a game for all of the attendees, which can be hard with limited space and a crowd of people all sitting at dinner tables, so I decided we would play a quick game of heads or tails. For those unfamiliar with the game it is about the easiest thing ever. Everyone in the room stands up at their seats, and one person is designated as the coin tosser. Before the coin is tossed, everyone in the room either puts their hands on their heads, or on their rear ends, signifying on which side the coin will land. All those who were correct keep standing, and the rounds continue until there is but one person still standing.

For my group of youth and their younger siblings, who don’t always interact with the adults of the church, it was great for them to see adults laugh and just enjoy playing a game. It created an atmosphere where everyone was in something together, breaking down some of that youth vs adults mentality.

I can thank my mother for my love of games as part of education. She was a public elementary school teacher for 25 years, and taught middle school math for the following five. She has always valued games, both for recreation (she was the kickball pitcher at recess my whole third grade year) and for retaining information. Her students played the games the children in early America played to learn about life in the colonies. They played around the world to practice math facts, and played set or 24 challenge to work on other math skills.

I am forever grateful to the people who taught me how to play, and I hope to be a youth minister  who allows space for play. Below are instructions to some of our favorite games we play in our youth group. I hope you find a new favorite, or if you have a different favorite, I’d love to hear about it. We are always on the lookout for new games!

 

Eye Tag

Ninja

The Question Game

Psychiatrist

King of the Lily Pad

Human Bowling

Four on a Couch

Duct Tape Hockey Mask

Scatter Ball

Family

SPUD

Crazy Kick Ball (messy game)

Paint Twister

 

 

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