Lord Prepare Me to be a Sanctuary

by Pastor Heath Howe, Family Ministries

"Lord Prepare Me to be a Sanctuary. Pure and Holy. Tried and True. With Thanksgiving I want to be a Living Sanctuary for you."

Charlotte, our youth minister, believes that no school youth group experience is fully realized unless this song is sung. She may be on to something. It is the perfect song to teach our seventh and eighth graders because now they are ready to deepen the movement of their faith and put it into practice. They are ready to take their faith outside of the Sunday morning moment. The curriculum this age group uses, Rite 13, is divided up into five areas: Self, Society, Spirituality, Sexuality, and Prayer. Each Sunday a lesson is presented from one of these areas. Bible stories are the spring board for larger conversations that help the children apply their faith to their daily lives. How do we LIVE this faith at school, at home, with friends? At this age they are ready to consider real application, to allow God to make their hearts and souls into real sanctuaries.

Like the younger children, they still engage inprayer as they pray weekly together in Sunday school and are gathered with all the adults and other children during a Sunday morning liturgy. They still practice their own rituals and traditions such as getting Confirmed. Caring conversations continue at this age, especially when their study encourages them to name personal connections they are making with their studies. The new, and final, Vibrant Faith Ministry key added this year is, Service. Our seventh and eighth graders participate in hands-on outreach ministry such as raising money for Heifer Project and/or serving in soup kitchens in the greater Chicago.

Sanctuary, the youth group song, is sung with more power and courage as a child arrives in the senior high classroom. The curriculum used on Sunday mornings is called Journey to Adulthood, J2A. If you peek into our youth group rooms on a Sunday morning you will find teens lounging on couches, eating donuts or pop tarts and quietly but bravely talking about God. The J2A curriculum is a continuation of the Rite 13 mentioned above and the same five categories apply. However, now the teens have all four keys in their hands. They have tools for Prayer, Ritual and Tradition, Caring Conversations, and Service. Now, they begin the new work of co-creating with God. With a good foundation they now get to see how much deeper their relationship with Christ goes. At this age, they meet weekly for youth group where further reflection, fun-filled outings, and deeper enrichment happens. The highlight of these years is the summer mission trip. On this trip all four keys are practiced regularly and our young adults meet God and hear God's voice, the one that has been whispering to them all along, in those they serve. On this trip they meet more people of God and more saints of the kingdom. On this trip they give of themselves and discover that their hearts and souls are a place where God's grace resides. They are in fact sanctuaries.

"In partnership with families we will nurture each child's relationship with God, the world, and themselves so that Christ's love will grow in and through them."

This is our Mission Statement for Faith Formation at Church of the Holy Comforter. It is our stake the our teaching teams place in the ground as we guide our youth. We hope you will make every effort to have your child, grandchild, Godchild, or any child God has brought into your life, be part of our faith formation program. What an honor and privilege it is to be a part of the Holy Spirit teaching our children the stories of the people of God from long ago and pointing to those people of God who are alive of today. May we all be still and know that I AM God, and may we, too, pray to make a living sanctuary for those who seek the love of Christ.