Sermon for 12/17/17: Confusing Mary with a Nice Lady -- Youth, Part III

Psalm 89:1-4, 19-26, Luke 1:26-38

Labyrinths by the Bethel Middle School Youth Group

Labyrinths by the Bethel Middle School Youth Group

Upon Further Reflection

This week, I do not have a thought of my own to share, but rather, a prayer.  Recently, in Bible Study, we talked about the trouble some of us find with the Lord's Prayer because it limits our understanding of God to the realm of Father.  What happens to the mothering nature of God?  Is it necessary to even think of God as a parent?  How is that liberating?  How is that stifling?  These were all good questions with good wrestling.  Each one of us in the room had different ways we've come to terms with the Father language of this abiding prayer, let alone our tradition as whole. 

In that class, I mentioned a different version of the Lord's Prayer that might be helpful, one that holds to the original intent of those words, but has used more expansive language to achieve its end.  Words are limited vessels to be sure -- but they are what we have.  Try this on though and feel what language can accomplish:

The Lord's Prayer
(from the New Zealand Prayer Book
Rev ed.: He Karakia Mihinare O Aotearoa)

Eternal Spirit, Earth-maker, Pain-bearer, Life-giver,
Source of all that is and that shall be,
Father and Mother of us all,
Loving God, in whom is heaven:
The hallowing of your name echo through the universe!
The way of your justice be followed by the peoples of the world!
Your heavenly will be done by all created beings!
Your commonwealth of peace and freedom sustain our hope and come on earth.
With the bread we need for today, feed us.
In the hurts we absorb from one another, forgive us.
In times of temptation and test, strengthen us.
From trials too great to endure, spare us.
From the grip of all that is evil, free us.
For you reign in the glory of the power that is love, now and for ever. Amen

Sermon Notes

In my sermon, I reference the claim of Mary as the first preacher of the gospel.  I think that idea came from this interview with Rev.  Nadia Boltz-Weber.  I recommend the unedited version.  Hang on to your hats though -- she's not polite either.  

Sermon for 12/10/17: Being Hard To Live With --- Youth, Part II

Isaiah 40:1-11 and Mark 1:1-8

Rock Prayers painted by the Middle School Youth Group

Rock Prayers painted by the Middle School Youth Group

Youth ministry is not about getting things accomplished - only the act of God can bring about the transformation we seek. Youth ministry is about participating deeply in young people’s lives as we await, together in suffering & joy, the coming of God.
— Andrew Root

Upon Further Reflection

I forgot to tell you that John the Baptist was an artist.  In all my comparisons between John the Baptist and teens on Sunday, I forgot to say that.  It's an insight by Richard Rohr, that John the Baptist shaped containers for the Holy Spirit; he shaped pathways for God. He was never confused between the object he was making and the spirit it held within it in the way we are often confused.  In church life, we often mistake the container for the contained. 

I don't know about the kids you know, but the ones I know are always making stuff.  From an early age, they are always, always building, molding, creating.  My son has been out at 7am for the past week in the 25F mornings hammering on the fence.  He says he's working and fixing and building.  My daughter's hands never weary of shaping paper, wax, candy wrappers, you name it, all of it transformed into stuff she has an internal logic for making.  It's all a mystery how these things appear at her fingertips.  Kids have this inherit creative drive.  We need this drive in our churches if we are meant to renew.  And in the midst of all that messiness as we embrace the spirit of our prophets, our kids, we can't forget...Jesus was a crafter of containers, a sculptor, an artist. The wild thing though is this: it is us he's always tinkering with.