From our Coordinator of Youth Faith Formation, Clare DeWitt…

Dear St. John Family, 

In my past four years of doing ministry, there has never been a time when right before a big event, retreat, or program that I don’t feel a little nervous. All the time, energy, planning that has gone into creating something that I hope teens will like, enjoy, and be inspired by comes down to the moment when we begin. My anxiety wants to kick in because I want it all to go as well as I envisioned it in my head and prayed about in my heart.  

And every time, as the nerves settle down, I always hear this single thought: “Jesus is going to show up.” 

And He does. Every time. Even when things don’t perfectly go according to plan. Sometimes despite my best laid efforts. The Lord moves and convicts and challenges and breathes His love in our hearts every single time. It’s such a relief to realize that I don’t do this work alone. Not only do I have a fantastic parish that supports me, amazing teens that I get to work with, but Jesus always does the heavy lifting. 

 As we are in the season of Advent, I seem to have that same thought echoing in my mind: “Jesus is going to show up.” 

The season of preparing for Christmas can remind me a little bit of all the time and effort and imagining that I put into a retreat. We decorate our homes to create the right environment. We plan out certain activities to help our families and loved ones get into the Christmas spirit. We make treats and goodies that only make their appearance this time of year (my favorite is my mother’s molasses cookies, dipped in white chocolate). We listen to Christmas music to put us in the right mood. All of these activities and plans all have a basic goal, to get ready for this season. 

And if you’re anything like me, especially when it comes to planning, you want everything to go just right. And if plans go awry, family members are unwilling, drama takes place, or just the normal, unexpected stresses of life take their toll, it can often feel like we are “doing Advent wrong.” So I want to whisper that same truth to you that has given me the courage to start every event, retreat, and program that I have ever planned: “Jesus is going to show up.” 

This is the whole reason He came. This is why the Angel Gabriel told Mary to name Him, Emmanuel — God with us. He’s not just in the hearts of those who have perfectly decorated Christmas trees or who are on top of their to do lists. He doesn’t just reside in the homes that are drama free, tantrum free, or quiet and calm. He comes to be with us because He loves. 

I think Advent is both equal parts of preparation and expectation. And sometimes I am better at one or the other. So if you find that this season can be difficult or does not go to plan, keep your hope in the expectation and the joy that comes with believing that “Jesus is going to show up.” And invite Him into the messiness and the parts that don’t seem to fit in a Christmas card. He is Emmanuel. He is with us. And He most certainly longs to be present in it. 

To preparing and expecting together, 

Clare DeWitt

Youth Faith Formation