Salt & Light Retreat Resource Manual
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Backpack Meditation
This meditation is good for high school and college students. 
Close your eyes and relax.  Breath deeply.  Imagine each part of your body relaxing.  Feel the calm travel up from your toes to your legs.  Relax your back and your shoulders...your neck and your head.  Imagine yourself sitting here (the place where you are at).  You get up and walk to the door.  You open the door and you are in your favorite place.  Where are you?   Picture the sights and sounds of this place as you walk around.  As you reach the center, you can see Jesus standing there with his arms outstretched.  What do you say to him?  What questions do you have for him?  What does he answer?  As you are talking, Jesus hands you a backpack.  It is filled with symbols, words, phrases, and memories of all the experiences which have influenced your faith journey throughout your life.  You look inside.  What do you find?  Think back to your childhood - what you first learned about God.  Who or what have influenced you most since then?  What obstacles have you faced in your faith journey?  Who has helped you through these rough times?  What questions have you wondered about?  You see at the top of the backpack those issues which you and Jesus have just discussed.  You also notice that there is still room left for future growth and learning.  Jesus explains that you will always wear your backpack.  However, once you leave this place, it will become invisible.  When you are finished talking to Jesus, say goodbye.  Walk back the way you came until you come to the door of  (the place where you are now).  You walk inside and sit back down where you are now and open your eyes. 
Devotional - the "sin" rock
For devotional, how about giving everyone ten minutes to go off and find something that reminds them of their relationship with God. Tell them that they will have to explain why their item reminds them of God. You'll get lots of flowers, a few rocks, and some surprises. Talk about how beautiful or solid or amazing that a relationship with God is.  After that, hand each of them a softball size rock that you had collected before that day in private. Call each of these rocks "sin."  Talk about what sin is and how heavy and ugly it is. Talk about how rough sin is and how, after awhile, we all get tired of carrying sin around. Make sure that everyone gets a good idea in their little noggins about what sin is then challenge them to, silently, think of what their sins are and the areas in their lives that need improvement. Talk about how if this rock was really like sin, it would grow and grow and grow to a point that it would be too big for us to carry. Read Romans 3:23 ("for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,"), then go on to tell them about what Jesus did and the read the second part of the sentence ("and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.") Talk about how God allows us to "throw off" our sin (Hebrew 12:1-2 - "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus...") and how God can take away our sins and throw them far away (Psalm 103:12 --"... as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.")  Finally, have each kid, individually take their "sin" rock down to the shoreline and toss it as far out into the lake as they can, never to be seen again. If you want to, have them go to the shoreline in pairs (to bring in the example of helping each with their problems (Galatians 6:2 - "Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ.")
Eyes are the Windows to the Soul
Age Group: All Youth  
This is not so much a game as it is a powerful way to bring down walls in your youth group. Divide your group in half and have each of the two groups line up single-file and shoulder-to-shoulder, facing each other so that everyone has a partner. For instance, if you have 20 people, divide them into group 1 and group 2 like this:       
         1  1  1  1  1  1  1  1  1  1
         2 2  2 2  2 2  2 2 2  2
Each person in group 1 holds hands with his/her partner in group 2, and must stare deep into the other person's eyes without saying a word -- this may be hard to achieve at first but it is absolutely essential. Play some mellow Christian music in the background. Every ten seconds or so, pause the music briefly (one second or so) to signal that the entire group is to shift clockwise so that everyone changes partners. Continue this until everyone has been a partner with everyone else. The point? Many youth stay in their own cliques and avoid contact with others.
This activity forces ten seconds of total concentration on another person's soul -- "the eyes are the window to the soul." You may be amazed at the results. Everyone gets the same measure of respect from everyone else for a change. This might lead to an excellent discussion on any number of topics. You could instruct the ten seconds to be spent in prayer for the other person, or have everyone forgive each other for any hurts, etc.
The Eyes of Christ
Have the group form an inner circle and an outer circle facing each other and to pair up with someone in the opposite circle.  You must have an even number of people to do this activity, so if a leader must participate, please do so.  Then inform the group that this is a serious activity that there should be no touching, hugging, laughing and to be quiet at all times.  When the reader says move only the inside circle will move one person to the right.  
Come with me and each other in a journey of friendship as we look into the eyes of Christ.
Read Luke 24:13-15 (The Walk to Emmaus)
The Walk to Emmaus--the breaking of bread; looking into the eyes of Christ.  What would it have been like to look into the eyes of Christ?  How could you NOT know how special and powerful Jesus was?  Yet how many times do we look into the eyes of others--of family, friends, and strangers--and FAIL to see all the good they have inside?
Look into my eyes...
We came together as partners just now.  You are my friend and you are a stranger.  Look into my eyes.  Even if I know you well, you are a stranger because we have so much more to learn about each other.  And even if we are meeting for the first time today, you are my friend just because we stand face to face for this moment in time.
Look into my eyes...
Can you see that I am uncomfortable?  It is not easy to let my guard down and allow someone to see me as I really am.
Look into my eyes...
Do not be afraid to look at me.  I am here to comfort you.  Please let down your bold front.  Let me see the real you.  Let me see the real you, the one whom God created.
Look into my eyes...
Can you know that there are times I feel alone because I am different?  Sometimes the loneliness seems unbearable.  I need to know that someone cares about me.  Look into my eyes.  Be my friend and accept me as I am.
Look into my eyes...
I see so much that is good.  I try to be the best person I can, but sometimes it is very difficult.  Look into my eyes.  Being with you has made me realize how important it is to strive to be better.
Look into my eyes...
I want to get to know you, and I want you to get to know me.  But what if I am rejected?  Courage, I need courage.  As I look into your eyes, I see kindness.  I am willing to take the risk to ask for your friendship. 
Look into my eyes...
There is so much that I want to know about you.  Can I see how much you care?  Look into my eyes.  I want to know the Jesus within you.
Look into my eyes...
I can see kindness.  I know you will allow me to be myself when I am with you.  Thanks for being my friend.
Look into my eyes...
Can you feel the love that surrounds you?  I love you and God loves you.  Do you love yourself.  It is ok to be your own friend.
Look into my eyes...
You are important to me.  You have helped me discover my strengths and to deal with my weaknesses.  I thank you for sharing yourself with me today.
Look into my eyes...
I see light.  I know that when you leave today you will let that light shine so others can see it too.  I know that you will make a difference.
Look into my eyes...
Do you know that I accept you unconditionally?  Do you know that I admire you for who you are?
Look into my eyes...
I see faith hope and love.  You have helped bring those gifts to me.  You have made me realize how much God loves me.  I know that you have come into my life for a reason.  A part of you will stay with me always.
Look into my eyes...
Can you see Jesus there?  I want to be Christ to you because you have been Christ to me.
Look into my eyes...
You and I were called here by our loving God, and I have been called to be your friend.
A Love Story
One day, I woke early in the morning to watch the sunrise.  Ah the beauty of God’s creation is beyond description.  As I watched, I praised God for his beautiful work.  As I sat there, I felt the Lord’s presence with me.  He asked me, “Do you Love me?”
I answered, “Of course, God!  You are my Lord and Savior!”
Then he asked, “If you were physically handicapped, would you still love me?”
I was perplexed.  I looked down upon my arms, legs, and the rest of my body and wondered how many things I wouldn’t be able to do, the things that I took for granted.  And I answered, “It would be tough Lord, but I would still love you.”
Then the Lord said, “If you were blind, would you still love creation?”
How could I love something without being able to see it?  Then I thought of all the blind people in the world and how many of them still loved God and his creation.
So I answered, “It’s hard to think of it, but I would still love you.”
The Lord then asked me, “If you were deaf, would you still listen to my word?”
How could I listen to anything being deaf?  Then I understood.  Listening to God’s Word is not merely using our ears, but our hearts. 
I answered, “It would be tough, but I would still listen to your Word.”
Then the Lord asked, “If you were mute, would you still praise my name?”
How could I praise without a voice?  Then it occurred to me.  God wants us to sing from our very heart and soul.  It doesn’t matter what we sound like.  And praising God is not always with a song, but when we are persecuted, we give God praise with our words of thanks. 
So I answered, “Though I could not physically sing, I would still praise your name.”
And the Lord asked, “Do you really love me?”
With courage and a strong conviction, I answered boldly, “Yes Lord!  I love you because You are the one and true God!”  I thought I had answered well, but God asked, “THEN WHY DO YOU SIN?”  I answered, “Because I am only human.  I am not perfect.”
No answers.  Only tears.
The Lord continued, “Why only sing at fellowships and retreats?  Why seek me only in times of worship?  Why ask things so selfishly?  Why ask things so unfaithfully?”
The tears continued to roll down my cheeks.
“Why are you ashamed of me?  Why are you not spreading the Good News?  Why, in times of persecution, you cry to others when I offer my shoulder to cry on?  Why make excuses when I give you opportunities to serve in my name?”
I tried to answer, but there was no answer to give.
“You are blessed with life.  I made you not to throw this gift away.  I have blessed you with talents to serve me, but you continue to turn away.  I have revealed my Word to you, but you do not gain in knowledge.  I have spoken to you, but your ears were closed.  I have shown my blessings to you, but your eyes were turned away.  I have sent you servants, but you sat idly by as they were pushed away.  I have heard your prayers and I have answered them all.”
I could not answer.  How could I?  I was embarrassed beyond belief.  I had no excuse.  What could I say to this?  When my heart had cried out and the tears had flowed, I said, “Please forgive me Lord.  I am unworthy to be your child.”
The Lord answered, “That is my grace, my child.”
I asked, “Then why do you continue to forgive me?  Why do you love me so?”
The Lord answered, “Because you are my creation.  You are my child.  I will never abandon you.  When you cry, I will have compassion and cry with you.  When you shout with joy, I will laugh with you.  When you are down, I will encourage you.  When you fall, I will raise you up.  When you are tired, I will carry you.  I will be with you till the end of days, and I will love you forever.”
Never had I cried so hard before.  How could I have been so cold?  How could I have hurt God as I had done?
I asked God, “How much do you love me?”
The Lord stretched out His arms and I saw his nail pierced hands.  I bowed down at the feet of Jesus Christ, my Savior.  And for the first time, I truly prayed.
Bible Passages That Give Comfort About Tests and Exams:
“...but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)
“Do not be anxious in anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”  (John 14:27)
“If any lack of wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”  (James 1:5)
“Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord.  “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you.  Plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”   (Jeremiah 29:11-13)
Meditation Relaxation Techniques
1. Instruct the students to sit comfortably wherever they like. As you read the following words. Instruct them to keep their eyes open, in order to withdraw into their heads.
2. Feel your feet in your stockings
Feel your stocking on your feet
Feel your feet in your shoes
Feel your stockings on your legs
Feel your legs in your stockings
Feel your slacks or skirt over your legs
Feel your legs in your slacks
Feel your underclothing next your body
Feel your body in your underclothing
Feel your blouse or shirt against your chest and your chest inside your blouse or shirt!
Feel your ring on your finger
Feel your finger in your ring
Feel the hair on your head and your eyebrows on your forehead
Feel your tongue in your mouth
Feel your ears
Go inside and try to feel the inside of your head with your head
Feel all the space around you
Now let the space feel you
Reconciliation Sand Bucket
This is a good way of allowing retreatants to open up their sins to God, without being intimidated by a priest or other people.  You will need a dish washing bucket and some sand.  Fill the bucket with the sand.  Then during the time of reflecting on the wrongs that we have committed, the retreatants can have an option of confessing to a person or quietly go over to the bucket and write the sin in the sand.  Then when they feel they are ready to get rid of that sin, have them wipe it away in the sand, symbolically removing the sin from that person’s heart.  
Stones and Water Closing
This closing activity is great for trying to explain how we can fit God into our busy life and how God is always with us in all that we do.  You need 2 pitchers and stones.  Hand out the stones to the retreatants and tell them to think of something they do or someone that influences them and have each stone represent one person or one action.  After they have talked about their stones with the small group, have them come up and put the stones into an empty pitcher.  You can have them share what they shared with the small group in front of the large group.  You can fill up the pitcher with stones.  After the pitcher is filled with stones.  Explain to the kids how full the pitcher is, just like our life is full of activities and people.  Then list examples that the children gave.  Then propose the question, “How can God fit into our busy schedules?” and “How can we fill this pitcher any more?”  Then bring in a pitcher of water that is half way filled.  Then pour the water into the pitcher with the stones.  Then explain that there is plenty of room in the pitcher where the stones are and that there is plenty of room for the water.  Just like there is plenty of room for God in our lives.  Just how the water surrounds the stones.  God also surrounds us and is part of everything we do in our busy lives.  He is there for us always, even when we think we do not have time for him.  This is a good way to end a retreat or to drive home this point.  It really works well with anyone and it takes about 15-20 minutes.
What if Jesus Came... (Poem)
Would you have to change your clothes before you let him in?
Or hide some magazines, and put the Bible where they’d been?
Would you hide your worldly music and put some hymn books out?
Could you let Jesus walk right in, or would you rush about?
And I wonder...if the Savior spent a day or two with you,
Would you go right on doing the things you always do?
Would you go right on saying the things you always say?
Or would life for you continue as it does from day to day?
Would you take Jesus everywhere you go?
Or would you maybe change your plans for just a day or so?
Would you be glad to have him meet your closest friends?
Or would you hope they’d stay away until his visit ends?
Would you be glad to have him stay forever on and on?
Or would you sigh with great relief when he at last was gone?
It might be interesting to know, the things that you would do,
If Jesus came in person, to spend some time with you 
Yarn Talk
Bring a ball or skein of yarn. Best time - late evening, after a snack. Everybody sits in a large circle (so they can see each other - no back rows). Introduce a topic (i.e. - how can we have better unity in our group? What are the hindrances to unity, and how can we overcome them?) Then lay out the ground rules:
a. ONLY the person holding the yarn ball may talk. He/she will talk uninterrupted - everyone will get their turn. (you may need to set a 3-5 min. time-limit if you have a large or very talkative group - use a watch with an alarm to signal the end of their time, or an egg timer).
b. The yarn begins with the first person to raise their hand, then proceeds to the left. Everybody has the opportunity to talk - but no one is required to.
c. The first person holds the end of the yarn, passing the ball; the next person continues to hold onto the string of yarn as it is passed - once the ball has gone all the way around, you will have a large yarn circle. After it has gone all the way around, those who want to talk silently raise their hands. The person holding the yarn tosses the ball to one of them, still holding their section of yarn. As the ball gets passed and unrolled, you will have a large spider web forming.
d. No bashing people - present or absent (i.e. - one youth, who was extremely negative and made most of the group angry, was not at the retreat, and we didn't allow them to speak about him). Any comments about those present need to be made in a loving, constructive manner (Eph. 4:29).
e. This is not a gripe session - our goal is finding solutions to our problems.
f. What is said here is CONFIDENTIAL and should not leave this room (esp. important to teach them how to keep confidences).