Last night we ate pancakes, played some board games and Mario Kart, Eli led us in worship, and Julie Amshey taught us how to be a good friend to those who are lonely!
Last week in youth group we discovered some giant bags of pancake mix in the youth snack closet, and this week we put those to good use! Unsurprisingly, chocolate chip pancakes were a hit. After some quality time laughing and playing together, Eli led us in worship, I led some prayer, and Julie continued our series on being a good friend to those who are struggling by reflecting on the story of Ruth and Naomi!
I was sick last week and steadily losing my voice, so Julie saved my life and offered to teach our large group! She took the time to tell a more modernized version of the story of Ruth and how Ruth stuck by Naomi even when she was lonely and pushing Ruth away. After a famine forced Naomi and her family to move from Bethlehem to Moab, her husband dies and her two sons get married to some Moabite women - Ruth and Orpah. Tragically, Naomi’s two sons also die and the three women are left to fend for themselves. Lonely doesn’t even being to describe how they must have felt!
Naomi decides that there is nothing left for her in Moab, and tries to send her daughters in law back to their mothers. After much weeping Orpah returns to her family, but Ruth tells Naomi that she isn't going anywhere. Naomi tries to reason with her, saying that there will be no men for her to marry! If your students came home and told you that “Ruth wouldn’t marry a cow,” this is the context. 😀
Ruth refuses to leave Naomi in her loneliness though, and says “wherever you go, I will go. Wherever you stay, I will stay,” and the women set off to Bethlehem. To make a very long story short, Julie explained that God provided for Ruth and Naomi, even in their loneliness, and Ruth eventually met Boaz. Many generations later, a pretty important descendant of Ruth had some letters written about him. That descendant was Jesus, and one of those letters was 1 John.
She explained that in that letter, Christians are told that they have the Holy Spirit, and are never truly alone. Beyond that, we were made for community and are called to be there for each other - especially when we are lonely.
We broke out into our debrief groups, and talked about some of the practical ways we can show love to lonely people, especially at school. My group seemed to think that loneliness could be cured by laughter or distraction, so we dove a little deeper into how to actually address the root problem of loneliness. Reaching for youtube or minecraft can temporarily feel helpful, but authentic connections with other people who love Jesus are some of the best medicine for loneliness.
Next week, we are continuing this series by talking about how to be a good friend to those in need!
As always, thanks for checking in and feel free to reach out with any feedback you might have! Have a wonderful week!