Thursday, March 16, 2006

THE YOUTH ARE OUR FUTURE?



CHAPTER 37. THE ELDERLY AND THE YOUNG

March 16 - July 16 - Nov. 15

Although human nature itself is inclined to be compassionate toward the elderly and the young, the authority of the rule should also provide for them. Since their lack of strength must always be taken into account, they should certainly not be required to follow the strictness of the rule with regard to food, but should be treated with kindly consideration and allowed to eat before the regular hours. - from the Rule of St. Benedict

A while back I was driving to a middle school to have lunch with one of my students. I happened to be leaving the downtown Cokesbury when I was pulled over by a police officer. I knew that I had been speeding down the street, it was true- I had gotten in a hurry because I was running late and had gotten caught.

The officer walked up to my window and was less than cordial in his tone and demeaner toward me. In fact, I'd say that his initial tone was borderline rude and chastizing. As he peered into my car I thought for a second he was going to ask me to get out and begin to search me and the vehicle. He asked me how old I was, and I told him 32. He gave me a double take and then walked back to his car. When he came back his composure and demeaner had changed. He addressed me as Mr. Norman and was much nicer, asking me to pay closer attention and to drive a bit slower. I pulled off wondering if I had looked several years older instead of several years younger if he would have treated me the same way....

A few weeks ago for the first time in a long time our congregation was served communion by teenagers. I was excited and so were they. One of the guys in the youth group, a sophomore, looked at me after it was over and said, "Wow, that was awesome." One of the ladies on our staff said that after that worship service she had to go to Target and she happened to see two of the girls in our group- freshmen in high school. They could have talked about anything to her in passing but they chose to say, "GUESS WHAT!!? WE GOT TO SERVE COMMUNION TODAY!!"....

I heard later that there were some complaints about having teens serve communion in worship. Some people had felt that having a teenager serve them took away from the sacred nature of the sacrament. I also heard lots of positive feedback too, that it was meaningful to see teenagers participating in the life of worship...

When I was pulled over by that police officer that day- I felt like I was a second class citizen and somehow not quite an equal nor even a good person. It was all in his tone and body language... As I heard the story of someones displeasure with youth assisting with serving communion I felt somehow that even in the church we can sometimes treat certain groups as second class citizens....

In a world that does not accomodate teenagers very well unless we're marketing to them and relying on their "impressionable minds" and pokets to carry our economy, can we as the Church practice a different model of saying, "You are a vital part of who we are NOW!! Your gifts, your talents, and your service is valued- not just in cleaning up and putting up tables and chairs at dinners but in being a WHOLE part of this community with a voice".... I hope that's where we are, cause I know they need that empowerment and the Church needs their gifts, raw creativity, ability to venture outside the box, and spirit energy.

I think there is hope within the United Methodist Church for the future if today we are willing to embrace all ages and all people and include them together in the participation of stories and practices that make us a unique community.

shalom,
j.


A man is not old until regrets take the place of
dreams.

- John Barrymore

4 comments:

Thunder Jones said...

If you shaved that hippie beard and grew hair like a real person, then people would know you're a grown-up.

Freaking hippie.

gavin richardson said...

the bowtie doesn't get you instant street cred?

St.Phransus said...

well, not my jerry garcia bowtie.

:(

natalie said...

one of the coolest things I've had the oppertunity to do in the past year was to serve Communion to the delegates and visitors to the N.GA Annual Conference this past summer. A youth from each district served the bread, while the DS from each district served the juice.

We talk about letting youth know that there's a place for them in the UMC... that right there made it evident.

There's a LONG way to go yet, but it encourages me to see how far we've come.

-natalie
www.firecracker8489.blogs.com