After spending a weekend on retreat with 75 youth ready to be confirmed in their faith, I have a lot to think about. Adults forget that newness, that excitement. I’m a lifer. I was born into the church, raised in the church, and never really left when I went away to college. I was always the only “young” person at the yearly Charge Conference. I’ve had a remarkably constant relationship with God even back to some of my first childhood memories. While I know that it is not always like that for many Christians, it’s easy to forget how Confirmation is amazing. How youth are in this distinctly special place in their faith journey. How adults are afforded a link back to those days of their youth when they are involved with Confirmation and youth groups.
(Image courtesy of sensiblegiving.com)
It’s like there’s this whole path of life ahead of them. They’re so eager to run forward with all the passion and vivaciousness I once had. The world is brimming with newness and endless possibilities. Just being in their proximity brought it all back for me. I love my life, all that I have and experience here and now. It is no better than my life was as a teenager, but it is different. This weekend it seemed to come full circle. Now I was the adult leader. I was the one who was both leading and watching them go on ahead. I was in the position many of my spiritual guides once held. It made me nostalgic, but also made me so grateful to be there. How many of us miss this occasion of spiritual blessing, a time to bless and be blessed, because we are unwilling, for whatever reason, to work with children and youth? What is it? Fear? The lack of free and readily available time in our overly busy lives? Will God accept those excuses?
I wouldn’t bet on it. But I will offer this prayer…
In you all things hold together in sacred purpose.
May we who profess faith in you take our rightful place in the lives of the young.
We can no longer watch them without hearing you call us to help them,
Learn with them,
And learn from them.
Our community will dwindle and die without their presence, without their growth.
Take away our fear, our reticence.
Replace it with the same willingness others once had to walk with us when we were young.
May we grow along with them, learning that our journey has not ended.
We have farther to go, and we will go there together.
Thank you for the presence of children and youth.