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Youth Digest – 01.21.20

It is a wonderful thing to sit in the pews and watch children get baptized on Sunday mornings. This has always been a refreshing and renewing experience for me, and I especially love the congregation’s response to assisting the family in rearing the child, as part of a larger family of Christ.

This past Sunday was one more big step in a series of big steps that have been continually happening since Harvey was born 11 weeks early last May. Harvey was baptized last Sunday and it was both a joy and an honor to stand on the stage as Pastor Becky perform the baptism and as Pastor John walked Harvey through the pews. And instead of answering just one question with the rest of the congregation, I was privileged to answer all four questions this time as I stood on stage holding our precious baby boy.

I was reminded of our confirmation retreat when we talked about the sacrament of baptism, and of something that we readout of the Presbyterian book of order. “God’s faithfulness needs no renewal. Human faithfulness to God needs repeated renewal.” Well, it’s not scripture, but it has stayed with me just the same. God’s dedication to his children needs no renewal, but our dedication to God needs continuous renewal. Join me this week in thanking God for never giving up on us, even when we continuously fall short and seek to renew ourselves through His love, grace, and forgiveness.

Blessings,

R. H. Karn

Youth Digest – 01.14.20

Have you ever been curious as to how others see you? If R. H. ever wondered this, the kids in our youth group have helped him out by drawing pictures of him on the whiteboard in my office. I absolutely love these pictures. They are all a little different, but you can clearly tell who they are supposed to be. There is a picture of him smiling, one of him yelling “QUIET”, and even one of him in sunglasses. I love how each picture shows how the artist views him, whether it be the disciplinary, the cool guy, or the happy, go-lucky guy.

I know that for myself, I can often get caught up on how others may see me. This is something that I have had a hard time with since I was young. I remember talking to my parents about it throughout my teen years, I think that’s when it was the worst. They read me the story of David being anointed as king from 1 Samuel. There is a great verse in chapter 16 about God looking at the heart, while man looks at the outward appearance. As I continued to grow up, this verse stayed with me whenever I would get hung up on thinking too much about what others thought of me.

As I sit here at my desk and write this, I can take a glance at the whiteboard and see these great pictures of R. H. and be reminded that with all the different ways that others see us, God is the only one who truly KNOWS us! Let’s give thanks this week, for this wonderful truth.

Blessings,

Tanya Karn

Youth Digest – 01.07.20

Yesterday I was reminded that things don’t always go as planned.

As I was walking out of the house, I discovered that I had locked my keys in my car the night before. I was instantly frustrated! I called R. H. (because he has the second set of keys) so that he could come unlock my car. He had to leave his office and finish his workday from home, while I had to go inside and send Harvey’s sitter home because I wouldn’t be going anywhere anytime soon. It took me a while to calm myself down from my frustration, but once I did, I was reminded that in Christ we can find peace even in the midst of our frustration.

I want to encourage you this week to hold on to what Paul tells us in Philippians, to not worry about anything but give everything to Christ. When things don’t go the way you planned or when life seems to overwhelm you, give it to Christ and let His peace wash over you.

Blessings,

Tanya Karn

Youth Digest – 12.31.19

Today is the day that most of us spend reflecting on the previous year. We think about the highs and the lows. We think about the wonderful memories we made. We even think about the mistakes that we made, sometimes.

Tomorrow is the first day of a new year, and with the first day of a new year comes the chance to start afresh. We look at this first day as a blank page. The possibilities are endless with this new blank page: we can be the person that we wanted to be the previous year, we can accomplish goals that we set out to accomplish but maybe didn’t quite fulfill, or we can finally stop procrastinating and start that project. This blank page is full of endless possibilities. Sometimes, this blank page is a fresh start; a new beginning from a past that you might want to forget.

One of the things I love about this image of a blank page, and the idea of a fresh start, is that we can have a blank page and a fresh start every day, with Jesus. We’re promised that He wipes away our past and He makes us new whenever we ask Him to; we are made new in Christ.

So as we begin this new year, and we start filling in this new blank page, I encourage you to let Christ fill in this new blank page in your life. Ask him what he wants you to do this year and pursue that goal.

Happy New year!

Blessings,

Tanya Karn

Youth Digest – 12.24.19

Candle-light services on Christmas Eve are some of the most beautiful spectacles I’ve experienced in the church. Candle-lighting is something that I will always associate with church and I find it funny that I’ve written all of the youth digest write-ups for Advent so far without actually mentioning candle-lighting. This Sunday we lit the 4th candle of Advent, representing Joy, and tonight we will light the 5th candle of Advent, the Christ Candle, representing the coming Jesus Christ, our Lord and savior.

I grew up in our church in Illinois as an acolyte, not by choice, but through parental volunteerism. Thankfully, I didn’t have to wear any weird robes or get special training to light candles. I was a boy in elementary school, I knew how to light things on fire. I did have to learn how to work the candle-lighter with the taper and a candle-snuffer, but once that was finished, it was just a matter of walking down the aisle to light the candles at the beginning of the service and walking down the aisle to put all the candles out at the end of the service. I did the acolyte thing so often on Sunday mornings that the entire process was instinctual; I could do it in my sleep.

Christmas Eve services were very different. There were so many candles to light on the alter and some, the Advent candles, that I wasn’t supposed to light. Plus, I had to go around to get all the rows started on the congregation’s little individual candles. Christmas Eve services were hard work as an acolyte. I even had to stay up late for the midnight service. The one that ended, technically, on Christmas morning. So here I was, during one such fateful Christmas Eve midnight service. I had finished lighting all the rows and I had returned to my seat in the choir loft, behind the pulpit via one of those sneaky side doors so as not to walk right in front of the pastor. I took my seat, lit the last little candle, my candle, and I put out my candle-lighter.

I then fell asleep holding my little candle.

I nodded in and out of sleep in a jerky enough motion that I caught the attention of the entire congregation, but no one was impolite enough to laugh-out-loud, so the pastor never turned around to see what was going on behind him. I’m told that I both thoroughly embarrassed and thoroughly horrified my mother, the likes of which I’ve never been able to accomplish again. Apparently the highlight of that midnight Christmas Eve service was watching to see if a tired little boy would accidentally light himself on fire in his sleep.

Thankfully, hot wax dripping onto my pants was enough to wake me up, but my little power nap was enough to energize an equally sleepy congregation.

This is one of my favorite little Christmas stories and I hope that it brought you some joy on this wonderful Christmas Eve. As we celebrate Christ’s entry into our world this week, join me in soaking up all the joy that you can and sharing all the joy that you can. Christ, our savior is born. Indeed, this is good news of great joy. Share that joy and Christ’s message of love and salvation.

Blessings,

R. H. Karn

Youth Digest – 12.17.19

This year, more than any other year of my life has been a year of truly and deeply experiencing God’s love. I have always been amazed by the loving church family that exists at Liberty Presbyterian Church; it’s one of the reasons that I have been doing youth ministry at this church for almost 10 years. In 2019, I felt the floodgates open: Tanya, Harvey, and I were engulfed by prayers and support; we were overwhelmed by the outpouring of love from our church. To this day, we still are. From the volunteers who hold Harvey on youth group nights to every time we change a diaper (some of which still have your little messages written on them) we feel this amazing love.

This is the love of Advent, God’s love for us is overwhelming, undeserving, and all-encompassing. It’s a rock-your-world, change-your-life love that should not and cannot be contained. So uncontainable, in fact, that it broke into our world, enfleshed through the birth Jesus Christ, who is God’s Son, God in human form, and all love. Christ teaches us the way to live a life filled with love and exemplifies this love through dying on the cross. In result of our salvation, through Christ’s death and resurrection, our response is simple enough: our response is to love. We are called to love God and love everyone else in an overwhelming, undeserving, and all-encompassing way.

Friends, as we prepare for Christmas, do whatever it is that you need to do out of love. Everything and all things, do them out of love. Christ gives us a new commandment in John 13: 34-35 to

“Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”

As we prepare for Christmas, act out of love, give out of love, and continue to pray for and support those in need out of love.

Blessings,

R. H. Karn

Youth Digest – 12.10.19

Peace might be one of the hardest aspects of the Advent season to grasp. For me, in my adult life, I’ve surrendered to the chaos and the flurry of activity that is the crescendo towards Christmas. During this busy season, I experience moments of peace when I find the perfect gift for someone or when I snuggle into bed after a long day of hard work. There is definitely a peace to be had when arriving at grandma and grandpa’s house after a long day of travel. The world outside seems so peaceful after the first snowfall of the season. These are all excellent examples of peace, but I believe Advent’s peace is meant to be so much more.

The moments of peace that we glorify during this season are, at best, fleeting. Only because I don’t think it’s the same peace that is mentioned in Luke 2:14 when the heavenly hosts reveal themselves to the shepherds. However, I do believe that we get close to this peace, catching glimpses of it because the true peace here is the peace that comes with the Kingdom of God. Thanks to Christ, and his ministry here on earth, we know that the Kingdom of God is at hand and we know that Christ, entering into this world and sacrificing himself on the cross, allows us to enter the Kingdom of God. There we will find the true peace that God intended for us from Revelation 21:4 which states that God will wipe every tear from our eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever. That is a peace that we so desperately need.

This week, join me as we challenge ourselves to share the amazing peace of God’s Kingdom with those around us. Pause and extend this peace to those who are suffering in sorrow and in pain. Don’t let the build-up of Christmas keep you from furthering God’s Kingdom here on earth.

Blessings,

R. H. Karn

Youth Digest – 12.03.19

For this first week of Advent, we are called to prepare for Christ’s birth with hope. I’ve been hopeful about a lot of things in my life, but my hope has always been curbed with realism and cynicism. The phrase, “Don’t get your hopes up.” has always come easy to me. Let’s be honest, my hopes still “get up” but it’s been a long time since they “got up” and got out of hand.

That changed this year though. Thanks to Harvey, I feel like I’m experiencing hope in a way that is new, exciting, and refreshing. Hope and holding my baby boy go hand-in-hand. It’s a newness that radiates hope. I have to believe that this feeling is a fraction of the feeling that Mary and Joseph felt as they were told about their son, God’s son, from the angels. Sure, they were also scared, but true, life-giving hope washes something like fear away so quickly and so easily, it’s like that fear never existed in the first place.

The hope that entered into this world with Christ’s birth is that powerful and the very definition of life-giving. God, the God of hope, gave His creation the greatest gift, the perfect sacrifice for all the sins and wickedness of this world.

As we begin this Advent season,

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13) and join me in thanking God for all the hope in our lives.

The first candle of Advent is a light in the darkness, and just like that light, hope in Christ will never be overcome by any darkness.

Blessings,

R. H. Karn

Youth Digest – 11.26.19

As we prepare our tables, and our waistlines, for a day of feasting, let us remember to also prepare our hearts. Let us remember that this holiday is not just about the turkey and mashed potatoes, but about giving thanks to the Lord for all the blessings he has bestowed upon us. So as you preheat the oven and baste the turkey, open your heart up and thank God for all He has given you.

I pray you all have a wonderful day filled with family, love, and gratitude!

Blessings,

Tanya

Youth Digest – 11.19.19

This past weekend, the confirmation class spent the weekend on a retreat.  We were able to have a lot of fun as a group while learning more about the sacraments. The group spent some time doing prayer stations after studying about baptism and ended the evening with a great discussion about communion before we took communion together as a group. Along with studying the sacraments, we hiked through the woods, we played basketball, and we played group games together.   We have a great group of kids again this year and I am so excited to see how this class continues to learn and grow together!

Blessings,

Tanya

Youth Digest – 11.12.19

As we experienced our first snowfall of the season last night (that seems a little crazy to say), I wanted to remind you all of our church’s weather policy in regards to youth activities.

  • If Olentangy schools are closed, the Church Office is closed, and all church and youth activities and meetings are cancelled for the day and evening.
  • If Olentangy schools have a delayed opening, the Church Office is closed from 9:00 a.m. to noon, and all morning church activities and meetings are cancelled.  Evening youth activities will still take place.
  • At a level-1 snow emergency in Delaware County, all church and youth activities on Saturday and Sunday (other than Sunday school) are cancelled.
  • At a level-2 snow emergency in Delaware County, worship services and church school are cancelled.

If you have any further questions about this, please let me know. You can find more information on the Liberty Youth Instagram and Facebook pages if there are cancellations.

Blessings,

Tanya

Youth Digest – 11.05.19

It’s hard to believe that October is over and Christmas is just around the corner. It seems that as soon as Halloween is over, and sometimes even before it’s over, Christmas decorations are in the stores and Christmas music is playing in stores or on the radio. I do love a good Christmas song and can’t wait to put up my tree, but I always try to wait until after Thanksgiving. I have nothing but love for those of you who have already put up the tree and blast the Christmas music as loud as you can stand. I know that for myself, I need to set aside some intentional time of gratitude. This season of thankfulness is so important to me!

As Christians, we are called to Christmas at all times and in all circumstances, but I love that there is a specific time of year to remind us of the importance of being thankful. So, I want to encourage you this week to get your heart in the “Thanksgiving Spirit” and give thanks to the Lord!

Blessings,

Tanya

Youth Digest – 10.29.19

2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us that when we are in Christ we are a new creation the old is gone and the new has come. I think that the season we are in right now is a perfect representation of this. When we have a new life in Christ the very beginning of that new life is full of joy and beauty, but we also know that we are not on an easy road as a Christ-follower. This is reflective in the landscape when fall is over and the trees are bare and the old is completely gone. But the verse doesn’t stop there. The old has to go away so that the new can come. We often think of a butterfly when we think of our lives transforming in Christ, but I love the idea of a tree. The leaves start out green, change to beautiful yellows oranges and reds before they fall off, then the tree is bare and looks as if it may be dead.

Winter covers the ground with snow and covers the tree with ice, and it looks like it is over for the tree. After being frozen how could life come from that? But when the snow melts away and the sun shines on that tree, new life is born once again. In the same way, when we have new life in Christ, we are like that tree; the old will die away, and life can sometimes not be very pretty when that happens. But we are promised that new life will come and that new life is in Christ!

This week, spend some time marveling God’s beautiful creation; look around and be reminded of the new life that we have in Christ. Take some time to thank God for that new life that we have in Him.

Blessings,

Tanya