Yesterday was the annual Youth Service at Wellshire Presbyterian Church — the church at which Dave and Jll and the kids worship. Alastair, Dagny, and Maggie Faith all had a role to play in the service. It made my heart very proud to watch them. It also made me aware that, in general, the protestant churches do a much better job of keeping their youth engaged in faith-based activities than does the Catholic Church. In some ways, it’s comparing apples and oranges. Because the basic foundation of the Catholic Church is its belief that the bread and wine is truly the body and blood of Jesus, along with the fact that it is a worldwide universal church, the Mass is very ceremonial and serious. Young people can, and do, play a role in the Mass. They are able to read the New Testament scriptures, but the Gospel is preached by either the deacon or the priest. Lay people must go through an extensive training to be mandated to give out the Eucharist. Etc. Etc. Etc.
Three teenagers preached at yesterday’s service: One on an Old Testament reading, one on a New Testament reading, and one on a gospel from St. Matthew. Our grandson Alastair was one of the teenagers who preached. He must have drawn the short straw, because he preached on the Old Testament reading, which was 1 Samuel, chapter 3. In this chapter, God calls to Samuel three times. Each time, Samuel thinks it’s Eli calling him, and tries to respond. Finally, Eli tells Samuel that it isn’t him, but God calling him. The next time, Samuel responds to God, who tells him See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears about it tingle.
I love that idea of being so excited about hearing the word of God that your ears tingle. If Alastair had to preach on an Old Testament reading, that was a good one. He did a superb job of talking about not just listening, but actually hearing God’s call.
The New Testament reading and the Gospel reading were both related to trusting in God. St. Matthew tells us that Jesus said, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”
One of the teenagers had the very difficult job of calling the little kids up to the altar to preach to them. Kids can smell blood, so they were particularly wiggly and naughty as the young lady spoke, despite how well she explained trusting in God at their appropriate level. They would likely have behaved better had the pastor been there to give the evil eye. Anyhoo, at the end of her talk about trusting in God, she asked the group, “So next time you are worried, will you turn your worry over to God?” Without hesitation, the little girl sitting right next to her answered emphatically, “Nope, I’m going to handle it myself.”
And there you have it folks. Therein lies the problem. That little girl could have been me!