A Garden of God

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At this year’s Kairos, there was a small group room that rapidly became engulfed in flowers and pastel cards bearing the words of Psalm 92:12-15. These tokens, assembled by Small Group 7, were a part of their proclamation presentation, a tradition at Karios that each small group participates in Thursday afternoon and evening.

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Small groups devote a majority of their afternoon meeting times leading up to Thursday planning and preparing their proclamation for the Kairos community.

These proclamations are a chance for the Kairos small groups to communicate what they have discovered about their passage, and the conversation surrounding it in a way that announces the good news of God’s love to the rest of the community.

The Kairos small groups are asked to live with the text as they work on their proclamation throughout the week, diving into it through conversation and planning to find the nuances of the word- and Small Group 7 took this task to heart. Throughout the week the group discussed their faith in depth, and the struggles they each have personally endured throughout their faith life.
The plan for this proclamation presentation from Small Group 7 in a way worked to bounce back the overarching Kairos theme, “Reflections” based off of 1 Corinthians 13:12.

The verse was presented to the Kairos community by this year’s Planning Group, made up of Anna Derrick from Muhlenberg in Harrisonburg, Thomas Garret from Christ Lutheran in Fredericksburg, Callie Hammer from Epiphany in Richmond, Zach Highsmith from St. Timothy in Norfolk, Nano Masters from First Lutheran in Norfolk, Monique Smith from, and Elle Tomko from Peace in Charlottesville. The Planning Group has helped shape the week-long event, spending months in preparation before the participants arrived at Roanoke College in Salem, Virginia for Kairos.

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The Kairos Planning Group perform their skit

The most visible presence that the Planning Group takes on throughout the week is performing skits for all the participants to watch. This year the Planning Group skit gave the group a chance to glimpse into their future- living as senior citizens in a retirement home in the year 2116.

The skit addressed various aspects of growing old and reflecting back on life past, providing a lot of laughs and a unique perspective for the Kairos community to consider as they broke out in small groups.

The week-long event has made an impressive impact on the Planning Group youth that will carry them and their faith far after this week, as Anna Derrick said, “My experience on Kairos planning group has prepared me to be a better ambassador for Christ by teaching me how to share my faith and show joy to everyone around me. I’ve truly been blessed to be part of such a phenomenal group.”

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It’s thanks to the Kairos Planning Group skits, as well as conversations during small group  that the idea for Small Group 7’s proclamation was formed. The group always turned back to Psalm 92:12-15 in conversation, eventually finding a personal  group mantra to reflect the passage:

You are a child of God and that love is eternal. Our greatest struggles are our greatest strengths. It’s okay to doubt your faith because that is what makes it grow. Love never fails.

“Our proclamation affirms to me that God’s love is everlasting, and no matter how dark and twisty it gets, we need to trust in God to find the light.” said Zach Schwertz, a member of Small Group 7 from Epiphany, Richmond.

Putting their idea into action the group collaborated to assemble an enormous amount of faux flowers for the almost 200 participants at Kairos to receive. Each flower had a tag tied to the stem, with one side bearing the printed Psalm, and the other the mantra Small Group 7 wrote together.

These flowers were then placed inside offering baskets, and presented to each individual member of the Kairos community during the group’s presentation. As the flowers were presented Small Group 7’s youth spoke words of affirmation to those receiving flowers, while the Kairos community sang songs of love- all coming together to form a powerful message for those in attendance to take home with them.

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“It’s getting the Kairos community involved, they’re not just spectators to our proclamation, but equal participants” said Alice Chandler, a member of Small Group 7 from Emmanuel, Virginia Beach.

These flowers carried on over into the evening’s worship service by Kairos chaplain, Pastor Brett Davis from Muhlenberg in Harrisonburg. She used leftover flowers from Small Group 7’s proclamation to decorate the space nearby the altar, reflecting the love that was felt during Small Group 7’s proclamation out into the evening.

Year after year youth come to Kairos yearning for community, love, and God, and this year they will return with an everlasting reminder from their peers of all they came seeking and more.

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By | 2017-07-28T09:37:14+00:00 July 5th, 2016|News, Youth|Comments Off on A Garden of God

About the Author:

Emily Pilat is the Director of Communications for the Virginia Synod. She is a graduate of the University of Mary Washington where she earned her BA in in English with a concentration in Creative Writing, and a minor in Digital Studies. If you have an announcement, upcoming event, or news story idea you would like to share, get in touch with Emily via email [email protected] or by phone (540) 389-1000