Christmas Memories – Advent Devotion
December 17, 2020
“A Florida Snowball Fight”
Matthew 19:13; Luke 9:28; Luke 5:16;
(A portion of this devotion is taken from my book, “Adventures in Youth Ministry.”)
In my December 7, Christmas Memories Devotion, I discussed the fun I had with my youth at Disney for Christmas every other year.
Here is one of the alternate year Christmas parties’ stories, which were held at my home. This particular event took place in 2010.
My youth group was together for a Christmas party, as I said, this year it was at my home. I have the perfect party home for a group of students, a large family room with a big-screen TV, a fireplace, a swimming pool, and always plenty of food.
Now the students had already eaten and were socializing on the couches and floor in the family room. It was actually a bit chilly to go swimming as it was December. Still, in Florida, some of them have braved it anyway. We had just finished our yearly Bible story quiz, a 25 question Christmas quiz, straight out of a “Youth Specialties” gamebook, and our prayer time.
After prayer time, the students thought that the next thing on the agenda was to watch a movie or spread out around the house and play board games. But no, I had something much messier in mind.
I brought the students out into the backyard, behind the screened area of our pool. The boys were at one end of the yard, girls at the other. They stood 20 feet from each other. There was a piece of rope on the ground in front of each group to denote the line they were not allowed to cross.
We began with throwing water balloons, a lot of wet kids, and a lot of hooting and hollering. Thinking back, I should have done this in reverse and finished up with the water balloons, but it was not to be. Next up were very large Campfire marshmallows, again from 20 feet. This got pretty messy, especially since the area where they were standing had now gotten muddy. So, during the snowball fight, there was a point when they were throwing muddy marshmallows at each other after they’d pick up a miss from the ground.
But wait, there’s more, we hadn’t finished yet. The day before the party, I had gone to a local bakery resale shop. I purchased boxes of individually wrapped Hostess Sno-Balls. I mean, really, how can you have a snowball fight in Florida unless you’re using snowballs. Oh, and one more thing, I had honey to pour on the Sno-Balls, just to make sure that when you got hit, it stuck.
At this point in time, it got entirely fall on the floor funny, girls with marshmallows and snowballs stuck in their hair and the guys just pushing each other down in the mud. So much fun, just for the sake of having fun. None of them or I look at a marshmallow or Hostess Sno-Balls the same anymore. (BTW, I had to hose most of them off before they went back into the house. Some of the youth didn’t care how cold the pool was; they jumped in anyway.)
Is it okay to have fun? I think so. No one was harmed, no ill will occurred towards others, and language was contained with, “Oops, sorry, slipped out.”
What you may have missed at the beginning of this devotion was the time we spent in prayer and the annual Christmas Quiz. In my devotion of December 7, I mentioned that it’s okay to have fun, just for the sake of having fun.
But that doesn’t mean we didn’t make time for prayers at our get-togethers. The group also always prayed before meals. Every year I had the Christmas party at my house, each time the students worked through a 25 question Christmas quiz in groups of two. (BTW, this was not a Santa Clause quiz. This quiz was entirely related to the Birth of Jesus story in Luke and Matthew.
And even though the same kids would be in the group for 4-6 years, the quiz’s highest score was never higher than 17. It was always highly competitive, as prizes were given to the top three scoring teams, and fun.
Jesus always made time for prayer.
Jesus prayed for others. In Matthew 19:13, we read, “Then little children were brought to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them.”
Luke 9:28 reads, “[Jesus] took Peter, John, and James with Him and went up onto a mountain to pray.”
Jesus prayed alone. Luke 5:16 reads, “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”
It’s essential to have fun. It’s even more important to take time to pray whenever possible. Pray a prayer of Thanksgiving before you eat. Pray when you awaken, thanking God for the rest and hope for a great day. Pray for health, others, peace, etc. Never stop praying. And along the way, have some fun too. Even God laughed.