Tonight we continued our New You series by reflecting on Pauls use of the image of adoption in Romans 8. We started our discussion by watching a video of a young girl who learned she and her siblings were going to be adopted by her foster parents.
When the video ended students were what emotions they had while watching the video and what emotions they saw in the people in the video.
Most people saw a combination of love and joy, but one response stood out to me. One young man talked about it seemed like her hope was in that box, and when she opened it she found it.
We talked for a moment about what it is she may have been hoping for all along. Of course it was for parents and family, for stability, for love. In all of that seems to be the hope of belonging.
To belong is to have a place, a voice, to be valued. Belonging is something we are striving to communicate to young people each week.
In the time we spend together eating, singing, playing, being silly, being serious...
In the moments where conversations have to happen, issues need to be addressed, and behavior must be corrected...
In the celebration of milestones, the welcome of new people, the joys of life...
In all of it, belonging must be communicated. You belong here because you are a child of God, adopted into God's family.
I'm not sure when the picture on the bedroom wall in the video was taken, but I imagine if Paige and Daniel are anything like many of the parents I know, Ivey's name was put on the wall long before it was put on any adoption papers. And with it the story of belonging was communicated long before it was official.
In the same way we must recognize students need for belonging and provide a space where they do long before they are able to articulate aspects of the Christian faith with clarity.
When we create a space in the church where young people know they belong we are strengthening our communities of faith now and laying the foundation for the church to be built on in the future.
Take a moment this week, find a young person in the church, look them in the eye and tell them you are so happy they are here. A kind word spoken by an adult who took the time to notice them will have a great impact on their sense of belonging and may stick with them for years.