I’m not really sure if there’s a definitive answer about what Christmas is to me, but I do know that SPC is a huge part of it. The youth program has been such a safe space for me over the years and it’s a place where I feel genuinely happy when I’m with the people who are involved in it with me. It’s also a place where I’ve felt I’ve grown with God the most. The past month, we had three events that stuck out to me when I think about what the youth program does in my life.
We kicked it off with a get together for the Juniors where we all made gingerbread houses, and all got to hang out with the best small group leaders (I’m slightly biased, though). Much to my dismay, they refused to pick “the best house” out of all of our creations, but regardless it definitely began to feel like Christmas. Our leaders took time out of their schedules to hang out with a bunch of high schoolers, which means the world to me, because they probably could’ve been doing a million other things besides watching us break frosting bags and throw candy across the room.
The white elephant party, which replaced our weekly Wednesday night CORE, was definitely a highlight for me. They always keep it interesting for us, and we got to spend a night unwrapping and trading gifts with each other. I always look forward to that night because it’s something that brings a lot of people together. Many kids will bring friends and some graduated students come back to visit, which might be my favorite part because I love seeing them all again (and that says a lot because I got a fish this year as my white elephant gift; he’s now a happy member of our family). Even if there’s not a special night going on, CORE itself is a much needed break in my week and I get to see all the amazing girls in my small group who I love so much. Hearing a group message with all grades together in a really relaxed environment and then sharing about our weeks in small groups provides such a comforting place for me to go to every week.
The last thing our youth program put on for us was the progressive breakfast. This was the morning after we got out of school for winter break, and somehow a ton of us high schoolers showed up. We drove to three different houses, each offering a different part of breakfast. Although food may have been my greatest motivator, I also knew I would get to be with a community of amazing people, which prompted me to sign up. I’m so glad that I did because when I think of the beginning of winter break, my mind flashes to this morning because I was so excited to be out of school and I got to spend the first day with these people. The three families that hosted us all were so generous to open their homes to us as a group of teenagers paraded into their houses in search of food. I’ve realized that the kids are only a small part of our youth program, and the adults involved care so much about us that they are willing to provide fun experiences that allow us to connect with one another and spend time together.
I’m so glad I got involved with SPC because I’ve made some of my best memories during times like these, and I know my life wouldn’t be even close to what it is now without some of the most caring leaders and fellow high schoolers around me. Something always pulls me to get up before 10am on Sunday mornings, and I’m glad it does, because through SPC and the places I’m able to go because of it, I’ve learned the most about myself and what it means for me to be connected with God, and for this I’m grateful.