Monday, November 24, 2008

Almost December

As we move into the season of Advent, we will be hearing the familiar Christmas story again and again and again, told in many different ways. If you’re like me, different parts of that story stand out for you at different times.

For me, right now, the thing I keep coming back to is this: Mary was probably about fourteen years old. She was “only” a teenager! She wouldn’t be considered a particularly responsible or trustworthy person by ancient or modern standards. Yet she was chosen to bear God’s only Son. So Mary could only praise the God who chose to work through her (see Luke 1:46-55).

I just spent part of a busy weekend with some of our youth who are about the same age as Mary. There were four brave youth from our parish who traveled with me to our Synod’s Junior High Youth Gathering in Willmar. This is an enormous event, one of the biggest in the entire ELCA, so big that it has to be divided into two separate nights. With about eight hundred other youth and adult leaders, we danced to the music of the band, laughed along with the speaker, shared worship and prayers, and even maybe learned a few things about Jesus. Most of all, though, we saw that the God who chose Mary two thousand years ago is still working in the lives of young people today—both on a large scale (did I mention there were over eight hundred of us?) and in each individual voice giving praise to God.

Of course, you don’t have to go to Willmar to see God working in the lives of youth in our parish. On just a typical, ordinary week, you will find youth and adults together in Sunday School, Sunday morning worship, Wednesday night Confirmation classes, and our new after school program, K.I.C.K. In the coming months, there will be many more opportunities specifically for youth, including a retreat at Luther Crest for our senior high youth in January and the 30 Hour Famine at the end of February.

This Advent, as we await Christ’s return and remember the miracle of his incarnation, we also witness his transforming power at work right in our own community. To me, right now, that is especially evident in our youth, as they participate in our shared ministry. Maybe you see Christ at work most obviously in a different place. Maybe you're having trouble seeing him at all right now. But Christ is also working in each of us, by the gift of his Spirit in our baptisms, even when we seem unlikely choices to be God’s servants.
~Pastor Sarah