Attention: We interrupt your scheduled Lenten programming to bring you an important message. Adults, the youth of this congregation need you.
Admittedly, this isn't anything new or late-breaking. In fact, for those of you who have spent any time with me in person or online, it may seem like this is all that I talk about. I firmly believe it is a message worth repeating. It also seems especially timely now as we celebrate Sunday School milestones, and prepare our 9th graders for the last weeks before the rite of confirmation. As we ourselves prepare our minds and souls for the holiest days of the Christian year, it's also worth remembering our responsibilities as Christians. In other words, what does it mean to be Christian and how does that change our lives?
You don't have to look too far to see that we live in a very broken world. Emotionally, you probably also don't have to dig too far to remember people who shaped your life. Can you name people who love you who also love Jesus? How many come to mind? Could you be called to be that person for another? Paul made it quite clear in his post that when he said "the body of Christ is bleeding." What are we going to do about it?
Statistically, it's unclear, and in my eyes, irrelevant, exactly how many caring adults youth need in their lives. We promise each baptized member that we will be that community for them--even as they pass through the adolescent years which may involve attitude, sullenness, or outright resistance at some point or another. I haven't been part of this congregation very long, but I feel enormously privileged to be involved in the lives of the next generation of our church.Youth have shared their grief, their struggles, their victories, and their highs and their lows with me. I am consistently inspired and challenged by the faith insights of our young people--some of which we glimpsed during the midweek services this Lent.
The need is there. So, what can you do?
Things I would encourage you to do now:
- Introduce yourself to our youth and engage them in conversation. You do make a difference. They need you. They don't need you to be a theological expert (this is one reason we have pastors!) or to be perfect. They do need to know they are not alone in their walks of faith and that people care about them.
- Pray for and with the youth of our church and communities.
- Be aware. Our youth are doing great things in our church and communities. Affirm and congratulate them so they know this and are encouraged.
There are also some longer term things I'd invite you to pray over:
- Consider getting involved with programming at ELC for our children and youth. There are so many options! Niki, Kristen, or any of our pastors would be happy to help you find something that's a good fit for you. Not everything requires a weekly commitment or spending a weekend sleeping on a floor.
- Think about being a confirmation mentor or small group guide. More info on these will be coming later on, but I can personally vouch that both of these experiences have tremendously challenged my faith and given me a sense of place in this community.
My prayer for this holiest of weeks is that you would remember your baptismal promises and hear God's voice in your life.