This message was written and delivered by Ashley Bekkerus.
When I first started going to church, I was a teenager, and I really enjoyed the youth group that I joined. I went as regularly and I could and I started making friends within the group and stuff and was really enjoying it. One Wednesday night, I went upstairs to the youth room at the normal time and immediately something was wrong. All of the lights in the whole upstairs area were off. I was pretty confused and thought maybe I missed something because I had gone every other Wednesday for about 6-7 weeks or so, and this had never happened before. So, I tried the door, and it was locked. I looked in some of the windows and…. Nothing. At that point I felt pretty bad. Had I missed an announcement the week before? Or was everyone meeting and I wasn’t important enough to inform?
So, I left and I didn’t go back for a couple of weeks because I felt pretty weird about it. Why had nobody been there? Why hadn’t I known about it, if I had been going? Should I have signed up for some kind of newsletter or something? I finally decided to go back because I had really enjoyed going – and everything I could tell from having started reading the Bible was that community was really important. So, I went back and I asked someone about it and after some semi-confused conversation, they realized what happened.
On any month that had a 5th Wednesday, which didn’t happen super often, they did this “outreach” thing, where everyone met in the gym (on the other side of the church) and they just played games and stuff and the goal was that you could invite friends and those who aren’t comfortable with church so that they could get to know some of the people in the youth group and feel more comfortable coming on other Wednesdays.
So, this thing that was actually a really beautiful idea – a night where teens could come hang out with no pressure – actually ended up becoming a barrier to me – a teen – coming into the youth group. This is something that happens really easily to us – we do this thing so regularly, we forget to remind everyone about what the plan is, and then someone gets left out.
The problem is, that someone gets left out, and usually not intentionally.
A new coworker gets the HR training, but still doesn’t know the unspoken rules of the office. You’re meeting your partner’s family which requires a briefing about what topics should and should not be raised with various family members. And Church – it’s often the case that the very things that make us feel connected, our rituals of belonging become barriers to those who are on the outside. Today, were going to be talking about Galatians and we’re going to explore what the Galatians were going through at the time that letter was written.