The Rev. Christine Whittaker, priest at St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, Holliston reflects on teens and faith in the Holliston MA online news:
“What did you hear the preacher say?” was one of the questions on the form I handed the young people at St. Michael’s. The form asked them to comment on the Sunday morning liturgy, including atmosphere, attendance, music and the day’s theme. Most of their comments were on target. But I was concerned by one teen’s response which said the point of the sermon was that “Jesus told us to be nice to people.”
It wasn’t just that the sermon preached by our intern had had a far clearer and different focus on the promises we make at baptism, including the call to strive for justice and peace. ...
When I read the teenager’s summary of the sermon, I wondered whether we were somehow giving the message to our young people that Jesus just wanted them to be nice or whatever. But then I thought back over the year that I have spent with them as they prepare for Confirmation, the ceremony when they affirm for themselves the promises that were made on their behalf at baptism. They are sophomores and juniors in high school, capable of thoughtful reflection on their lives and their world. We have talked about faith and life, the Bible, church history and spirituality. And we have done
more than talk.
A couple of months ago, our young people planned the entire Sunday liturgy and gave the sermon. In the winter, they cooked dinner and served it to the women at Serenity House, a substance abuse recovery residence in Hopkinton. Last summer, they went on a nine-day mission trip to West Virginia to repair homes for low-income families under the auspices of the Appalachia Service Project.
I believe that our young people do know something about self-sacrifice. When they are confirmed next Saturday, they will be committing themselves to continue on this journey, not because they have all the answers now, but because in their continuing exploration of what it means to be Christian, they believe they can find lives of meaning and purpose.