Today was Youth Sunday at my daughter's family's church. This meant that the pre-teen and teen-age members of the congregation played all the parts in the service. There were songs written and played by the kids. The sermon expertly delivered by one of the girls that I have known for many years was a sterling example of the type of warm, personal, human testimony that were hallmarks of the sermons given by the former pastor that I heard yesterday on the subject of evangelism.
My first grandchild read the gospel with passion and concise diction, showing a great deal of stage presence. When she stood with the youth and sang, I wept copious tears flashing back to her early days in this same church, with these same families, my beautiful little angel granddaughter belting out her joy in Jesus like a baby Ethel Merman. Thankfully, she still shone as brightly with the glory of her God.
My pre-teen granddaughter had the role of the seemingly self-appointed encourager-in-charge of the various other participants in the program. (I like to believe that she got some of her cheer leading ability from her Granny.)Although she spends much time unsuccessfully attempting to hide her light under a bushel basket, she was masterful on the piano as the congregation "nailed" their burdens onto the cross of Christ. I asked my daughter to bring up my burden of multi-generational wounds, something my mother died praying for.
I was struck by the continuity in the liturgy; it all centered on the forgiving nature of God. The young men who gave the children's sermon had a wonderful way of explaining the importance of not burdening ourselves with shame over our mistakes. What great hope and joy these children exhibited! And what a wonderful legacy of their former pastor's evangelical abilities, which always put me in mind of what I've been taught about the ministry of Jesus.
Something that also struck me, both while I heard the former pastor and as I reveled in the beauty of the next generation's faith, was the lack of focus on confessing our sins against one another to each other and attempting to make amends. I left both gatherings with a heavy heart knowing how much pain is passed on from generation to generation because we don't believe that making the world right entails making amends for our transgressions to the people we have persecuted. And the sins of the parents continue to compound with each non-repentant generation.
My prayer several times each day is, "Holy Spirit, heal our hearts and heads. Oh, and please, Holy Spirit, take my tongue."