I was at a youth ministry conference when I was early on in my youth ministry vocation and a speaker there once told me that 95 percent of youth ministry is just showing up. Now he wasn’t talking about programming and logistics, child safety policies, all of which are important. No, he was talking about the actual ministry; it’s all about showing up week in and week out. For our teenagers their lives are so fluid with everything in their life constantly changing, the one thing that communicates God’s love to them is someone’s voluntary consistent presence in their life every week. Presence is a powerful and life-changing thing.
God’s promise of Immanuel is a game-changer; it means that we are never alone and that at every step in life we have an advocate, a helper, and a sustainer right beside us. If there is one thing a teenager needs it’s the assurance that they have a God who will never leave or forsake them no matter what grade they make, college they attend, or bump in the road they stumble upon. Through Christ, God announces God’s decisive YES to being a God of the people, a God who shows up, a God through the thick and thin. This life-changing presence is often through other people. My challenge to you is the same I gave to our teenagers this Sunday: as you approach Christmas and the celebration of the coming of Jesus, reflect on how God has been present in your life. Who are the people through whom God showed up in your life? How did God show up in others’ lives through you?