Yesterday's gathered worship was a youth service led by middle and high school students from First Baptist Wheaton. Shaped around Romans 5:6-8 its core involved several young people sharing with us from their personal experiences of God's work in their lives.
It was challenging and immensely refreshing. How transparent were their stories in which they shared their struggles and joys! A senior who spoke first asked for help coping with peer pressure, especially keeping himself pure sexually. Another, a daughter of missionaries, spelt out powerfully her tension of living between continents, yet expressed the strength given by the youth 'family'. A range of issues tumbled out from wrestling with insecurity and loneliness to guidance about the next steps towards college. There was such honesty and vulnerability.
I loved what happened next. We were given copies of their stories so that we could identify names clearly and colored cards on which we could write specific prayers of support and love to individuals. I know Carol was particularly touched by one girl's needs, and I felt compelled to write to one of the boys. But, then, the young people stood along the middle aisle and all the congregation reached towards them, some close enough to touch their shoulders, as the whole church prayed for them. To my surprise, they then turned and prayed for us, reaching out and asking for God's love and support. It was profoundly moving.
The youth pastor, spoke about the need for continuing to build relationships between the older members of the church and the younger. He's right, and yesterday I saw again how much we can learn from each other, especially us older folk from their transparency and honest trusting in Christ. Thank you, young people!