Three Things This Week
1. Social Media Is…Good?
What it is:New stats from Pew reveal that the overwhelming consensus among US teens ages 13-17 is that social media is a largely positive force in their lives, though they’re willing to acknowledge some of its drawbacks.
Why it’s interesting: 81% of teens agreed that “social media makes them feel more connected to what’s going on in their friends’ lives,” while only 43% said they feel pressure to post content that makes them look good. So case closed. Let them have free reign! …..Or not. Pew’s research contradicts a recent study from the UK that found that only YouTube had a net positive effect on teens’ mental health (Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook, and Instagram had net negative effects). This could indicate that UK teens are less healthy…or that they’re more willing to be honest. It could also indicate that US teens want social media to be good for them, so they go easy on it. No matter the reason, we need to keep the conversation about social media and its effects going.
What it is: The newest high-end shoe brand that social media influencers can’t wait to get their hands on.
Why it’s crazy: Though it’s only been around for a short while, the brand has made waves, with influencers lining up for their invitation-only pop-up in LA, spending hundreds on a pair of their shoes. One problem: It doesn’t exist. Payless created a fake website and fake Instagram to “rebrand” their discount shoes and prove that people don’t know the difference between luxury and bargain. Their experiment is an opportunity to not only talk with your teens about the power of branding, image, and presentation, helping them avoid the pitfalls of consumerism, but it’s also a chance to talk about quality. Is there a difference between Payless’s $20 shoes and Jimmy Choo’s $1,000 shoes? Is it actually as big of a difference as the prices suggest? Is it ever worth paying more for “handcrafted” or better materials? Could there be a negative side to both bargain and luxury?
3. Are You Influential?
What it is: Speaker Josh Shipp’s newest FB video is something anyone who works with teens should watch.
Why it’s an important reminder: Let’s face it. Between teenagers’ rolling eyes, their incredulous gasps that you don’t know what “yeet” means, and our own insecurities and negative self talk, it’s easy to wonder why we even wanted to be parents/educators/pastors/youth volunteers in the first place. “What’s the point? I have nothing to offer, and they don’t even listen to me because I’m not ‘cool’ enough. Besides, why should they listen to me when I have no idea what I’m doing?!” We all go through periods of self-doubt, and his video speaks truth to encourage us, give us perspective, and remember that these teenage hearts are worth it.
Patience and The Promise of Advent
Sunday is the first day of Advent, a four week season of patient expectation as we await not only the promised Christ-child, but the eventual return of Christ the king. Advent also reminds us that things are not as they one day will be: that although war, poverty, sickness, and injustice remain, God is making all things new. Just not quite yet.
As Mary labored delivering Jesus, the world itself is laboring through birth pains as the present order passes away and a new creation is born. Our task therefore is to embrace the tension between patience and promise, to live with hope in the midst of despair, and to never grow weary of doing good because we trust in the God who will “rend the heavens and come down” to save us. One day. Maybe not tomorrow or the next, but someday soon. We hope.
So, for the next four weeks lean into the promise of Christ with patience. To help you do so, read this prayer with your family every Sunday of Advent as we await the Christ-child…
“In our secret yearnings we wait for your coming,
And in our grinding despair we doubt that you will.
And in this privileged place
we are surrounded by witnesses who yearn more than do we
and by those who despair more deeply than do we.
Look upon your church and its pastors in this season of hope
which runs so quickly to fatigue
and in this season of yearning which becomes so easily quarrelsome.
Give us the grace and the patience
to wait for your coming to the bottom of our toes,
To the edges of our fingertips…
Come in your power and come in your weakness
in any case come and make all things new.
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