First Third Conversations

Getting Lost in the Holidays

A blog post by Rachel Schwenke

Last Sunday, as I was attending to the craziness of Sunday mornings with youth and parents gathered round, I lost track of my 3 year old daughter Lily at church. At first, I just assumed she was playing with the other kids in the lobby or dining hall. Then I broadened the search to include my office, the youth room, and the reception area, where there is candy to tempt her. I hoped she wasn’t playing in the sanctuary and falling into the baptismal (again)! I recruited some teens to help, and we started searching all the bathrooms and possible hiding spaces.

Finally, as the worship service was about to start I had to start the missing child protocol and involve the security team. Lily was found, quietly sitting alone in the education wing in her Sunday School classroom. Sunday School wouldn’t start for another hour and a half, but she was ready. Lily was reading her children’s bible, getting lost again in the story of Jesus’ birth.

I was reminded of the story in Luke chapter 2 of Jesus’ parents losing him in Jerusalem after the festival of the Passover. Just as his parents thought Jesus was in the group traveling together, I assumed Lily was hanging out with the youth who have adopted her as their little sister. And just as Jesus surprised his parents by talking with the teachers in the temple, Lily surprised me by waiting in the place where she loves to hear the stories of Jesus.

This advent season my children have been diving deep into Christmas anticipation. They have been getting “lost in the holiday,” wrapped up in the wonder of the story. Every night before bed, they want to hear about Mary and the angel, or the wise men following the star, or when there was no room in the inn. The nativity set we have displayed is the favorite toy of the month -- and all the animals are missing at least one ear to show how well they are loved.

I have been talking with our youth this month about what stories they love. Many of the teens are caught up in the Hunger Games, or eagerly anticipating the Hobbit movie, or re-reading the Harry Potter novels. I too love that feeling of being caught up in a story, waiting until the very next moment when you can pull away from your work to escape again into the narrative. I have been learning from Lily about getting lost in the Christmas story.

How are you lost in the wonder of the holiday? How can we share that same wonder with those we teach and lead?

Author Bio:
Rachel Schwenke loves youth ministry and community development. She has been leading for over 13 years in the Minneapolis area empowering leaders and serving urban youth. She is currently the Director of Youth and Family Ministries at First Lutheran Church in Columbia Heights, MN.

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