“For wherever your treasure is, that’s where your heart will be also.” What do you treasure? What has hold of your heart? On this day when children and teenagers are leading worship, it seems appropriate to consider how we treasure the young people in our lives, those who have a hold on our hearts.
Treasuring–caring for, protecting, loving, respecting… How are we doing caring for and protecting our children? Nationally, not so great. A week ago, yet more children were separated from their parents in an ICE raid in Mississippi. And the two mass shootings last week must–again–raise the pointed question for every parent and other adult who treasures children: How do we keep our children safe?
The dangers in our world grow exponentially every day. If you’re like me, those dangers occupy my mind a lot. The rise of domestic terrorism. The unwillingness of our legislators to do something as basic as reinstate the ban on assault weapons. The painful irony that, as oceans fill with run-off from melted polar ice, potable water supplies around the globe are shrinking.
If you’re like me, it’s getting harder these days to nurture hope…that is, until I spend time with children and teenagers.
I had the great joy of dropping in on MAD Camp a couple of times this week. Such energy…enthusiasm…playfulness…creativity! You’ve seen evidence of that this morning.
There’s something about being young that creates space for possibilities. Maybe it’s magical thinking, maybe it’s naivete…or maybe it’s because the young are able to see much farther into the future than us older folks. For whatever reason, young people are showing us many possibilities for a more hopeful future, even from where we’re standing right now. Many are taking actions listed by the prophet today: these young people are seeking justice, rescuing the oppressed, defending orphans, and pleading for widows.
They’re acting the world into wellbeing in other ways, as well.
People like 16-year-old Greta Thunberg of Sweden, who is speaking eloquently around the globe about the climate crisis. Talk about speaking truth to power.
People like 19-year-old Emma Gonzalez, a student who survived the Parkland School mass shooting last year in Florida…Emma continues to work for common sense gun legislation.
People like 11-year-old Rubin Martinez, who lives in El Paso. Distraught about the shooting that happened there last week, Rubin talked with his mom. She suggested that he think of something good to do in response to the shooting. Rubin started #elpasochallenge. He challenged every person in El Paso to do one act of kindness for every person who died in the shooting–22 in all.
The theme for MAD Camp this week was “Super Heroes…” The children explored what it means to have superpowers…not so much superpowers like “leaping over tall buildings in a single bound”…more like the power to act other people and the planet into wellbeing. Each child considered what her or his special powers were in doing that important work.
At the tender age of four, Austin Perine in Birmingham, Alabama, has discovered his superpower. Once a week, Austin dons a silky red cape, buys some chicken sandwiches with his dad, then takes the sandwiches to folks who are homeless. Austin’s superpower is feeding the homeless. As he hands a sandwich to each person, this caped superhero says, “Don’t forget to show love!”
Don’t forget to show love, Austin says. Here’s what I say: Don’t forget to treasure all the young people in your life…not just because they are amazing and deserving of all the love and care we can give them. Treasure young people because, at the end of the day, they are the greatest resource we have in acting the world into wellbeing. (Recording: “Your Children,” by Sweet Honey in the Rock)
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot
visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
In the name of our God, who creates us, redeems us, sustains us, and hopes for our wholeness. Amen.
Kimberleigh Buchanan © 2019