Preaching to youth is always a challenge – mainly because they are not a group that particularly desires to be preached to. That is not to say they don’t like to learn, or care about Church, or want to be good people and do the right thing – they would just prefer that you not get all ‘preachy’ about it. After all, they understand this world a lot better than we do. right?
Two weeks ago I was asked to preach at the North Dade Deanery’s youth conference here in Miami. We closed the conference with a Eucharist using the lectionary readings for Jonathan Myrick Daniels – a Seminarian and Martyr during the Civil Rights Movement.
We talked about what it really meant to be a Christian. That it wasn’t just ‘saying no’ to all the bad things around us, or listening to our parents, or getting good grades. But it was, following the Magnificat – challenging the powerful, lifting up the lowly, and filling the hungry with good things.
At the end of the sermon I challenged all of the youth present to offer up one way they would do this in their lives. Here are some of the responses I got back:
“Give Encouragement to others.”
“Feeding people hungry for knowledge because everyone gets confused and curious once in a while. I would like to feed them with knowledge to clear their mind.”
“I could protest for what I believe in”
“Have a good laugh with them.”
“Let the love of God shine through me.”
“Find someone lowly. Bend Down. Lift Them up.”
I am partial to that last one. You can see that these were intelligent, articulate, well thought out ways to make God’s love a reality here on Earth. All of them personal. All of them really powerful..
But there was one that stood out from the rest. That preached to ME, taught ME the most important thing we need to remember when we try to follow God’s call:
“Forget the Naysayers”
That’s right. Forget the Naysayers. There are a thousand voices out there telling you that the ‘way things are’ is the way it is always going to be. And there is no point in trying to make a difference. Just take care of yourself and those around you; that, my friends, is the devil speaking.
That’s right. The devil. We have a hard time in our Christian tradition talking about evil, the devil, Satan and all that. But there is perhaps no more powerful work of evil in the world than that voice that tells you to give up. To quit. To think ‘this just isn’t worth it.’
And somehow this one anonymous teenager was able to see through all that evil and fear and say to me, and now to all of you, that no matter how you live out God’s call to ‘Do Justice, Love Mercy and Walk Humbly with God’ the most important thing we all have to remember is to FORGET THE NAYSAYERS – and believe that things can—and will--get better.
- The Rev. Grey Maggiano, Trinity Cathedral, Miami