Train children in the right way,
and when old, they will not stray.
-Proverbs 22: (NRSV)
When I was a kid, my favorite part of church was when we would baptize someone. Usually, it was a infant or young child. As early as middle school, I loved when my pastor would ask us, the whole church, if we would help raise this little one in the faith, to make sure they knew the story, that they knew they were loved, that they knew they were part of this proud tradition of following God's call and changing the world. I knew it was a huge responsibility and that the question was meant for all of us.
I remembered those baptisms and when I would see those kids growing up in the church, I would do my best to fulfill that promise. The opportunity to baptize children and new believers in the faith was the first whisper that I heard of God's call for me to ministry, years before I recognized it. And it's still my favorite part of worship. And alongside my commitments to my family, it is still a commitment I honor and take seriously in my life. I am eager to answer yes, and eager to say yes to anything that shows our young people how very much they are loved.
I have found in my life and my calling that so many of my fellow believers feel this way too. Sometimes those opportunities to answer yes, to show love to our young people are quite obvious. A call to be a mentor to one of our Confirmands, or a call to be a Sunday school teacher or chaperone on a trip. Some are easy to keep, like showing up to church on Youth Sunday during your regular worship time or writing your check for your pledge. Sometimes, that call is less obvious. Sometimes it means making the effort as a congregation to train and raise up young people to be church elders, lay readers, or members of our ministry teams. Sometimes it's undertaking renovation projects for the spaces they gather. Sometimes getting up at the earliest hours of a Sunday morning over and over to show them what it means to commit to serving the least of these. Sometimes, it's being a prayer partner for them on their mission trip, or writing a check for the mission project.
I have the privilege of seeing so many quiet saints look for these less obvious ways to fulfill the vows they make at baptisms. I see the men and women who work tirelessly to create space for the youth and their voices and the experiences where they will learn and grow and serve. Each time we serve with joy, or give generous of our time and money and words of affirmation, we are raising a child up in our shared faith and showing them the love we were first shown by our creator, sustainer, and redeemer. How will you live into those vows in the weeks to come? I hope you'll be there as we baptize and confirm new believers at the end of April. I hope you'll respond yes as youth ask for you to come to Chick-Fil-A to support the mission trip. I hope you'll look for ways to pray for them and support them financially, and with your presence. I hope you'll tell them you love them by teaching them and showing up.
Prayer for Today
Lord, help me to pour out your love on the young people in my life with a generosity of spirit, and by saying yes. Often. Amen.