Monday, June 6, 2011

What Is a Refuge: Reflections from Youth Beach Retreat 2011

This past weekend the Imago Dei Youth Ministry traveled to the Ocean City Tabernacle for our annual combined middle and high school spring retreat. This year's theme, Refuge:Psalm 46, was selected by our youth ministry leadership team, and it was perfect!

I am convinced that the suburban lifestyle, while filled with its perks and privileges, is often the cause of most teen angst, depression, and exhaustion. In other words, the constant need to compete against one's neighbor, live into the myth of achievement, and pursue a road that is supposed to end in the wealthy and luxurious standards set by generations past, often leaves youth drained and spent before they reach 17.[1] That said, many of our students come to this retreat looking for, among many other things, the permission to rest and claim an identity other than 4.65 or 1750.[2] That is to say, contemporary youth and especially those in Imago Dei Youth Ministry are looking, searching, and hoping for refuge.

Hence Psalm 46.

We explored the three-stanza ancient poem and contemplated the nature of refuge, the concerns and hopes of our cities, and the reality of God as ours and the world's refuge. Aided by on-the-street interviews of familiar faces in West Chester, remixes of Psalm 46 as a call to worship, and A Brief Statement of Faith (1983) as an "Affirmation of Faith," the 60+ youth and adults were formed and found shelter in not only the Psalm and one another, but ultimately in the God who became a refugee in and for the whole world.

I would love to write and reflect further on the weekend, but I would not be able to do it just service. Instead, I captured it on film and compiled this video for use at our wrap-up session on Saturday night...

So, what is a refuge? Where do you find refuge? May we all find refuge in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob..

1] For an interesting documentary, check out Race to Nowhere:
[2] FYI, these are numbers used for GPA and SAT respectively. A subversive and alternative identity, imago Dei, hence the name of the youth ministry :)