My friend and mentor, Belton Joyner, used to say that the most dangerous preacher a congregation could have is either one recently returned from the Holy Land or one who is a new grandparent because that is the only thing the congregation will hear about.
I haven’t been to the Holy Land lately. So, about JP….
He is spending this weekend with us and I am in awe every time I look at him. He discovers something new constantly. His curiosity about what is around him, how it works, and how it relates to him is a wonder to watch. I am sure I noticed all of that with my daughters but I am more keenly aware of it now. Maybe it’s a grandparent thing.
As he explores and learns, I am beginning to catch glimpses of the person that he is becoming. I find myself wondering about his life – what it will be, where it will take him, the places and people and experiences he will have, the joys and heartbreaks that are in front of him and that are inevitable in any human life. I am conscious that if he lives to be the same age as his 85-year-old great-grandfather he will live to see the 22nd century. And I hope that for him.
I also find myself wondering about the faith he will have and how he will live into it. What will he believe about God? About Jesus? About what God calls him to do and about his compassion for those Jesus sends him to serve? How will that manifest in his life? Will he remember my faith and his grandmother’s and will he find in that something worthy of imitation? And even as his parents are already beginning their witness to him at home, I find myself praying that the seed of that witness, along with ours, plants in his heart and grows.
I find myself praying that for all of our children and youth at FUMCC actually. The culture and the world will not get easier. These next years will not be a more inviting place for Christian faith. To be a follower of Jesus will become increasingly more challenging in a world that will become increasingly less welcoming to the very thing it needs the most. And if our children and youth are to have a chance, it is up to those of us who promised them in their baptism that we would “surround them with a community of love and forgiveness that they may grow in their service to others” and that we would “pray for them that they may be true disciples who walk in the way that leads to life.”
In Psalm 48, the psalmist sings the praise of God and, particularly, of Mount Zion and the Temple as the place of God. He ends by calling the faithful to march around the Temple “that you may tell the next generation that this is God, our God forever and ever.”
This is one of the reasons, perhaps the main reason, we are Building to Serve – that we may tell the next generation that this is God.
So I hope you will join us as we celebrate the faith, tell the story again, and witness to the next generation. You may even find a member of that next generation is not far from you and you will have a chance to touch the future.
Grace and peace.