My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.
(Ephesians 3:14-19 The Message)
In the past four days I have had two opportunities to spend time with some of our congregation’s youth; on Sunday, I co-led Confirmation class with Catie, and last night I hung out with Catie, Kim, and youth at “The Way” Youth Group. Doing so served a double purpose: to be in community as the ‘new’ pastor with our youth, and to be spiritually nourished by their young hearts and minds.
Whenever I spend time with young people (um. . . that is, those under the age of 40!), I leave with a spring in my step, invigorated by a renewed hope for our sorry world. And whenever it is in a church setting, my faith is inevitably deepened by the profound thoughts share by those whose life experiences are but half of mine. After discussing the meaning of the Lord’s Prayer--and the value in praying this prayer during worship and while alone--during Confirmation class Sunday, and at Youth Group how focusing on things to be grateful for (as opposed to complaining about every day ‘stuff’) is good for us and helps us grow in our faith, both times I walked home across the church parking lot with a spring in my step and a prayer of thanks on my lips!
It is common to hear someone say that our children and youth are the future of the Church, which is true. However, they are also the Church of the present. The fact that SUMC has vital children’s and youth ministries is evidence that it realizes the importance of our kids in relation to the congregation’s present and future health; it takes seriously the loving and teaching and nurturing of its young ones—one reason why I said ‘yes!’ to being appointed to SUMC.
My prayer for our children and youth, both in our congregation and around the world, echoes these words from the Letter to the Ephesians: And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.
May it be so!