Pastor Mark asked me to be a middle school confirmation guide my very first Sunday here nearly three years ago when I moved to La Crosse. It seemed only right that I joined the new member class a week later. This was certainly God at work: I'm not certain that that particular volunteering invitation would have sold everyone on ELC, and I'm not sure I would have so eagerly accepted if I wasn't aching for a church home and seeing this request as a clear answer to my prayer for a church where I could be involved. To make a long story short, I couldn't be more blessed by the children and youth in this congregation and all the parents and ELC members/attendees who support both them and me through this ministry. It is an absolute joy to be part of the faith lives of children and youth, and I have seen God in so many ways through these young people.
On that note, I'd like to share a very small selection of what I've learned from them. My prayer is that these words, spoken by the next generation of our church with boldness and sincerity, will bless you too.
• "This is the blood of Christ. Good for you!" A youth was nervous and stumbling over the blessing when serving communion for the first time, but this is a key point of our faith too. Christ has died; this IS good for us!
• "Jesus has your back! No matter what!" We have many Scriptural promises that our Triune God will bless and never abandon us, but there is a certain clarity and conciseness of this statement that rings true.
• "GUESS WHAT? Jesus LOVES YOU!" One of the preschoolers in VBS last summer greeted me with a big hug and these words every day. I know I tend to forget these words and need to hear them often. I wrote them on a post-it and put it above my desk as a constant reminder, and think of the youthful boldness and innocence in which they were said.
As you go forth the serve the poor and preach the Gospel, I pray that you will remember these tenets of our faith and have the boldness to proclaim them with the boldness that the youngest among us do.