Monday, May 6, 2013

Youth Sunday

Today is youth Sunday.
I want to start with admitting this morning that I don’t really like Youth Sunday.
Don’t get me wrong I love watching our youth take a leadership positions in worship.
I love the songs they selected.
I love seeing their energy and enthusiasm.
I love the drums.
But I worry that we might give the impression that youth only get one Sunday.
It might give the impression that only once a year do we care what the youth want.
Think about it we don’t have a senior citizen Sunday.
Or a middle aged Sunday.
Every Sunday when we gather together all of God’s children are included.
Worship every Sunday is not just for adults it is for everybody.
It is for the entire body of Christ young and old and everybody in between.

In our baptisms we are welcomed into this body and in those baptisms we become full members of the Church.
There is no second class distinction.
Today we get to celebrate the baptism of Ben Wilhem and today Ben becomes a full member of the body of Christ.
For the rest of his life no matter where he is or what he is doing he has full membership in the Christ’s church.

In our Reading this morning from Acts we hear the story of Lydia’s baptism.
Paul driven by the Holy Spirit goes to Philipi.
We know about the church at Philipi because of Paul’s letter he later writes to them.
And we know that Paul has a love for that congregation.
The first convert in Philipi is Lydia.
It doesn’t seem like such a promising start to a congregation.
It started with all women and no men!
It doesn’t seem like such a good idea to start a church with all women who are given second class citizenship in Paul’s day.
But Paul knows the truth that has been constant throughout the book of Acts that God shows no partiality that all people in the kingdom of God are equally valued.
Lydia’s entry into the community is her baptism and once she is baptized she becomes a full participating follower of Jesus.
She instantly begins to serve others and offer hospitality to Paul and his traveling companions.

Baptism does the same for us that it did for Lydia and her household.
It is our entry rite into the community of faith.
It is God’s sign that we now belong to all higher calling.
Ben now belongs to that higher calling.
And so do all of our young people.
We want them to know that they are full participants with us in following Jesus Christ.

In many ways they have it even harder than we do.
Our youth are in the midst of figuring out who they are and what they are about.
They are doing it in an atmosphere that is not always embracing of the values of Christianity.
It is why we need them even more.
Because they are our witnesses, out there at school, and with their peers, they are witness to the love and grace that Jesus gives to us.
What a great and glorious thing to have our youth show others their dedication to their faith by serving others, and showing God’s love.
We have some really extraordinary youth here at Concordia.
They are filled with energy, and filled with faith.

I know that our congregation supports them.
I know that our congregational council has an attitude that we will find a way to help the youth get whatever resources they need.
I have seen how supportive this congregation is of our youth.
When we were raising money to go to New Orleans we raised it easily.
Today our choir agreed to help our youth singing the prelude.
And I know that it wasn’t always easy for them it was outside their comfort zone, but they did it with love and enthusiasm because they wanted to support our youth.
It wasn’t easy for our congregation to learn to sing with loud drums, and the energy of our youth.
But I really appreciated their efforts.
That is the kind of support our youth need so they know that we value them, and we consider them our partners in this ministry.

When I was their age I was the president of our youth group.
And our youth group did a lot of fun things, we were close friends.
I wanted us to do something besides have a good time.
I wanted us to serve as well.
I wanted us to be like Lydia and the other disciples.
Our congregation had a feeding ministry to people who worked at the race track in Salem, NH.
I asked if we join with the adults in this ministry.
I was told that we couldn’t.
That really hurt.
I felt that we were not being taken seriously that our desire to be fully participate in the life of that congregation was not welcomed.
Perhaps our youth Sunday can be a reminder to us all of the desire of our youth to be taken seriously.
Youth Sunday can be a reminder to listen to what they have to say, because what they have to say is important.

That is what baptism does for us it reminds us all that we are all in this together that no matter who we are, or what we have done we are all children of the same God.
We have all been washed in the same waters.
And those waters call us out to be in the world different.
To serve and love and offer hospitality without distinction.

Today is special for me in another way, because I was Matt’s Trainer at Calumet in the summer of 1998.
And Ben’s godmother, Becca, was a camper in Girls Cabin one when I was the unit leader at Camp Calumet.
I have watched those two people grow up to be extraordinary adults.
Matt lives his life serving others.
And Matt’s wife Jody lives her life serving others.
I have seen Becca continue to have that strong faith, and how much she gives of herself for others.
Today they give Ben a gift once given to them.
They give Ben the joy of knowing that he belongs to a faith community of people dedicated to making this world better.
He belongs to a faith community living in the Spirit that calls us to be different than the world.
Calls us to love and serve without regard to weather someone is worthy or not.

Today we are surrounded by the Holy Spirit.
We are called out by that Holy Spirit just as Paul was, just as Lydia was.
We are called out to serve and love God with our whole heart.
We are called to see each other as brothers and sisters in Christ.
We are called as Lydia was to be faithful to the Lord.

In this place we have old, middle, and young.
We are here together ready to serve together.
We are here together raising our voices in praise to our God.
We are here together and remembering that our God is forever with us, is forever faithful to us.

Let us go from this place remembering our baptism that brings us together, and that we ready to serve others in love.

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