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Pastor's Notes from The Scribe (July & August 2015)

posted Jul 4, 2015, 10:26 AM by Russell D. Hampton

Then little children were being brought to him in order that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples spoke sternly to those who brought them; but Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.’ And he laid his hands on them and went on his way. ~ Matthew 19:13-15

At the recent Synod Assembly, Pastor Randy Gullickson – executive director of Camp Lutherlyn – addressed the gathering with updates concerning Lutherlyn.  During his speech, he talked about the negative financial situation of the camp.  He implored, rather strongly, the assembly to think about Lutherlyn in their individual and congregational giving.  He expressed that summer camping experiences are very important to the spiritual formation of youth.  Then he stated (and I paraphrase), “This (topic) is important because the children are the future of the church; we don’t want to lose the future of the church!”

Later that evening, as the assembly gathered for Holy Eucharist with the Rite of Ordination, Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton proclaimed the Word of God to the gathering.  She recognized that children are important to the life of the church but she reminded the gathering of another important point: “Christ is the future of the Church.” 

Christ is, has been, and always will be the head of the church.  God in Christ will be at work to keep the Church alive and active in this world.  God’s Spirit is poured out upon Christ’s Church so that the Body will be at work in this world to proclaim the gift of God’s love through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. 

And we are God’s hands in this world.  We are God’s instruments who have been joined to Christ in the waters of baptism so that “we may proclaim the praise of God and bear God’s creative and redeeming Word to all the world” (Holy Baptism Liturgy, LBW, p. 124).  We proclaim this Word to all people – no matter their age, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, class, etc.  One of the important groups to proclaim this Word in both word and deed is to our children and youth. 

So, I ask you to pray and reflect with me on how we can strengthen the spiritual formation of our children and youth. 

1. Support camps, and encourage children/youth to attend camps that have a component of spiritual formation – Children/youth need a place to get away from the distractions and stimuli of the culture to commune with God and grow in Christ.  Camp is a great place to start.  They get to experience the wonder of God’s creation and experience fellowship with their brothers and sisters in Christ.  I always loved camp, and believe it was an important component to my spiritual development.  I would have kept attending had I not come home each year miserable from my allergies. 

2. Stay Connected – Send a card, email, or Facebook message to check in with children and youth you may not see often.  Ask them about their lives, interests, and/or plans for the future.  If you have the permission of the parents, ask them to have breakfast or lunch with you.  I was fortunate enough to have a mentor during confirmation classes who checked in on me.  Maybe confirmation mentoring is something we can explore as a parish.

3. Show up to a confirmation class or youth event to interact with them; invite them to sit with you at worship if they are comfortable and agreeable to it; or simply resort to point 2 by welcoming them and asking how they are doing. 

4. PRAY for them! Pray that they might continue to explore their faith and find joy in church activities.  Pray that they have the support and love they need to grow and mature in their faith and everyday lives.  Pray that God’s Holy Spirit will activate in them the spiritual gifts they can use for the work of Christ’s Church.  

5. If you are already doing many or all of these points, please join with me in conversation about this topic.  I would love to hear your ideas, but remember, I need your help and support to help enact any of them. 

 

In Christ – Pastor Maureen    

 

Prayer: Lord Jesus, we pray that your Spirit will always guide your Church to welcome the little children and help them to grow in their love of and service to you.  Amen.
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