A blog post by Rich Holleque
Image Credit: Open Bible by Ryk Neethling on Flickr
If you’re like me then you’re continually amazed and humbled by how insightful youth can be during Bible studies. I have had the privilege of leading a small group Bible study at the context where I work.
Now don’t get me wrong, every bible study doesn’t lead to enlightening discussion in our group. In fact, if I had a dollar for how many times we get off topic onto seemingly pointless subjects, I would be able to pay off those student loans that are looming. Still, the biblical narrative continues to inspire wonderful discussion in our small group.
This January in Contemporary Issues in CYF Ministry, we discussed the significance of story telling to learning. I found this discussion to be inspiring, so I decided to try something new in our Bible study. I thought it would be interesting to encourage youth to connect the biblical narrative with their narrative. I feel that we all need to practice the language of our own narrative and many times the right words escape us.
Maybe, through conversation with the Bible, we could find a way to articulate our own story. We tried to keep our conversation in the small group around how the text made us feel and then tried to connect that feeling to a time in our lives when we felt the same way.
Some of the stories that were shared were powerful, others were just plain funny, and we each got a chance to share. That, to me, was the most important part of the whole experience: everybody got the chance to share part of his or her narrative. Maybe they didn’t find the exact words, or have the perfect story, but they used their voice to tell it; and they deserve to be heard because they have a voice.
This was personally a powerful experience. Mainly because it made me think about John 4: 11, “The woman said to him, Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water?” In this passage, Jesus has just asked a Samaritan woman to give him a glass of water. This is not normal since Jews did not share things with Samaritans. Here the Samaritan woman names something very important. She names the impossibility of our situation and leaves us with a question.
We all come upon deep wells in our lives, ones that look like they are too deep to ever find water. Many times we find ourselves standing at these deep wells without so much as a bucket to help us. Our narratives are complicated.
Youth are no different. They face many of the same problems as all of us, and we all struggle to find the words to tell our narrative. But we can find strength in gathering together as a community to read this life-giving word. I think we are left to boldly and confidently imagine together the Samaritan woman’s question, “Where do you get that living water?”
Rich Holleque is currently an MA student studying Children, Youth, and Family Ministry at Luther Seminary. He also enjoys walking alongside youth as the Youth Minister at Cambridge Lutheran Church.