August 18, 2019
Starting this reflection about youth in the church while an Old Testament king is on my mind might seem like a strange place to begin. My “today” mind is full of the images I am enjoying on social media of young people participating in summer mission immersions, camps, service projects and other summer activities. But my “writing” mind is thinking about what King David, has to offer us about youth in the church and the world. David, who is buried in the city he helped establish, once stood as a young man, among his sheep, in the shadow of a giant enemy, with his best friend, Jonathan, with his music and poetry and indeed, with his God. That part of his life, along with his leadership, his goodness and his … not so goodness, is all part of his legacy.
David’s youth was part of a lifelong trajectory of faith. And his legacy is pertinent to youth ministry today. We do not do youth ministry simply for young people, for distraction, safety or expectation. We do youth ministry because youth or adolescence is a part of a lifelong trajectory of our purpose, our call, the reason God has given us to this world. We serve God among young people, and we are young people in the presence of God to serve others. Like David, our young people have gifts. Like David, our young people carry on family expectations and stories. Like David, our young people face enemies — so many enemies that some days I feel almost too anxious that we cannot protect them or even scratch at the surface of what they need from us. Like David, our young people will write the poetry of our church and they will recite the poetry of their older, more experienced mentors, leaders and parents. They will fail, like David failed. When it comes to watching young people fail or mess up, I, like so many others in youth ministry, wish that I could prevent that failure.
On this day that we, as a church, take a moment to give thanks to God for the gift of young people in the church and the world, perhaps we can look across the sanctuary, or the youth room, or the dinner table, to see what God sees — a life and faith already gifting us with God’s image, with the holy hope of what is to come.
For a resource to aid in planning Youth in the World Sunday for your congregation, go to presbyterianmission.org/resource/youth-in-the-world-sunday-service. For more information about the Office of Christian Formation, visit presbyterianmission.org/ministries/theology-formation-and-evangelism/office-of-christian-formation.
Gina Yeager-Buckley, Associate for Youth Ministry, Presbyterian Mission Agency
Revised Common Lectionary Readings for Sunday, August 18, 2019, the Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)
Today’s Focus: Youth in the Church and World
Let us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Let us pray:
O God, your creation is young and old. Your people are ready for your gifts at all ages and stages in their lives. Today we give thanks for the gift of young faith, young leadership and relationships with our young people. Amen.