It was exactly a year ago, April 1st, 2016, that I was gifted with what has become a prized possession of mine – The Octopus Hat.
We were at Heartland Presbytery’s Spring Youth Retreat at Heartland Center and our theme for the weekend was “Fools for Christ”. We spent the weekend inviting youth to be foolish and goofy – to let down their defenses, take off the masks they wear in the day-to-day and to just be themselves in all their unique and goofy splendor. One of the myriad of ways we accomplished this was by having tons of crazy hats that we encouraged kids to wear throughout the weekend.
When my eyes locked in on the Octopus hat, it was like it claimed me. I wore my dear Octopus all weekend long and at the end of the retreat my colleague who had brought the plethora of hats for us to enjoy, gifted it to me (thanks Holly!). Ever since, the Octopus hat rests on top of the coat rack that holds my clerical robes and stoles in my office. It is a great reminder that as I live out this calling, to make sure to just be myself in all of my unique and goofy splendor.
I love youth ministry and am grateful I work in a church that cares about our youth and their faith development and is also a size where I get to be hands on and deeply involved with our youth group. This year has been an incredible one for our youth group, as we have moved into a full-time partnership with Overland Park Presbyterian’s youth and adults. It has been a wonderful experience – full of all kinds of fun and joy, connection and learning, challenge and growth.
For the past couple of months the youth have been working together to plan worship for our congregations. We studied our scriptures together, brainstormed skit ideas, and then filmed and edited video to prepare the worship that will take place at both of our church’s tomorrow.
If you get to worship at either of our congregation’s tomorrow, what you will see is a group of youth being their unique and goofy selves, as they engage and proclaim the Word of God. It is a beautiful sight to behold.
It was in the midst of filming a couple of weeks ago, that I found myself, Octopus Hat clad, boom box in hand, in the middle of a dance party with youth and adults I love. We were dancing to “Whoomp There it Is” by Tag Team (a 1990’s classic) as together we enacted the joy God feels when one of God’s lost children is found. I felt a measure of that joy myself – overflowing from my fast-beating, dancing heart.
What a gift it is to know the love of God.
What a gift it is to be a part of the body of Christ.
What a gift it is to get to just be yourself – in all your unique and goofy splendor.
Worship is at 10:30am tomorrow – come join in on the fun!