Monday, April 19, 2010

What's emerging in (& from) the church

As I've thought about participating in today's synchroblog, I've riffled through a variety of ideas--and I've finally landed on a devastatingly stereotypical theme. I'm a woman, a full-time mom, and I'm going to write about what's emerging in the younger generations, and especially among children. I landed on this [potentially cliche] theme with a tentative boldness for two reasons: 1) I'm thrilled at the hope and beauty I find in the lives of our young ones, and 2) Within what's emerging, I've found my voice welcome in broad variety of contexts. Ironically, not being strictly confined to the role of motherhood has freed me to embrace it with deep joy and confidence.

In the past few years, I've been intrigued to watch children learning to take church "out" of church. Not that they're staying away (for the most part), but that they're discovering the reach of God's Kingdom. They understand that God isn't confined geographically (to a building) or temporally (to Sunday morning) but almost intuitively grasp that the presence of God permeates our world -- and, in fact, longs to spread ever more broadly and pervasively throughout Creation. A few examples, I think, will be the best way to make my point.

  • A thirteen-year-old girl who says, "No Christmas presents, please. Just help me save up to visit the African orphans our family has been supporting."
  • A five-year-old boy who stops the family car to buy -- and hand-deliver -- burgers to the folks living under the bridge.
  • A teen-age boy who happily spends hours designing a creative, hands-on worship experience for a small faith community.
  • An eight-year-old girl who holds her family to a strict regimen of recycling, expressing a deep commitment to God's creation.
  • A home-schooled teen-age girl who is inspired by parents to reflect the image of God through her relationality and vibrant creativity.
  • A ten-year-old girl, who observes in the middle of an amusement park, "You know, we don't have to be at home to offer hospitality. We can be hospitable anywhere!"

Each of these young persons represents to me a whole-hearted, whole-life commitment to the ways of Jesus. They remind me that God's Kingdom is vast--as are the demands on a citizen of that Kingdom. They remind me that the Kingdom of God is a place of hope, and that pursuing that hope is an all-encompassing, lifelong quest.

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