FIRST LESSON – Psalm 23 SECOND LESSON - John 10:1-18
TIME FOR CHILDREN – Luke 15:3-7
On Memorial Day weekend I am remembering this:
Some time ago now, my father gave me a metal box of my grandfather’s mementos. In it was an assortment of postcards written mostly in about 1915, in Dutch, from his family in the Netherlands. There were several postcards of street scenes in Rotterdam, grandpa’s home town, maybe taken as remembrances when he left home. Grandpa was a pianist and organist and composer and my brother Bill has most of the music he has written, but there was a sheaf of music in that box. There were his birth certificate and his naturalization papers, and his induction notice into the First World War. There were documents for the purchase of the little green house on Havana Street – which he and grandma bought for $6,000 in 1954 – with the stipulation that they put in a bathroom. Which my father did for them, when he remodeled the rest of the house.
Then there was a stack of neatly rubber-banded packets of bills paid during the last couple years of Grandpa’s life – $4.53 to the gas company, $7.00 to the doctor, $10 to the church, $6.67 to Steketee’s department store for a pair of pants, $9.90 for a pair of shoes. And there were a stack of cancelled checks: one for $5.00 to my cousin on what would have been her thirteenth birthday and several for small amounts to my mother, to reimburse her for picking up their medications, and doing their grocery shopping. All tidily recorded, in the late 1960s – how much and to whom and for what.
I sat not long ago and looked at all that again, and relived the last months of my grandfather’s life as I looked at his cancelled checks. It touched me deeply to see his careful handwriting again, and to remember that little green house on Havana Street. I remembered going with my mother to get their groceries, and taking them to the doctor.
And then I started seeing things that I couldn’t explain. Checks periodically for a hundred dollars and two hundred dollars written out to the estate of a dearly loved and quite wealthy family friend named Chris. And then more checks to other people – all of them much larger than the ones for shoes and pants and groceries. All of these checks had my uncle John’s name carefully written in the left hand corner. And then there was a letter from a credit bureau to my grandfather saying that my uncle wasn’t able to pay his bills and owed many thousands of dollars. And I began to piece together a story that I had never been told as a child. I saw the evidence before me, in my own hands, in that little metal box, in the form of cancelled checks from many years ago. That grandpa and grandma had borrowed money from their generous friends to pay my uncle’s bills. And what touched me the most was the proof that they had paid it all back, even after their wealthy friend Chris had died, and grandpa had written the checks to his estate.
A kind of bottomless sadness came over me that night as I put those checks away. Sadness that alcohol could have affected my uncle’s life not only, but my grandparents’ lives as well. Sadness that two such gentle and loving people as my grandparents, who had virtually nothing themselves, should have assumed the debt of their son – paying it back, literally, until the day they died.
But there was also a sense of awe, almost, at the honor that I discovered in my family. Honor that a father would stand behind his son. Honor that a father – even a man of almost ninety – would pay back the debt his son owed. Even after the man to whom it was owed had died. That he would pay back the money to a man who had been far wealthier than he was. For honor’s sake. Because it was right. Because he was a person of integrity.
And then a sense of remembrance came over me. I sat with those cancelled checks in my lap for a very long time that day, thinking to myself that the world is very different now (most of us don’t even have cancelled checks today and that’s only the beginning of it) and how I miss that little green house on Havana street where my grandparents lived simply and with honor. Where my grandmother served us all ham buns with cheese and cherry Jello salad and where she told me beautiful stories. Where I was safe and secure and well loved. And I longed to find that place again.
I know that the 1960s were violent times in so many ways. I lived through the 1960s and I know that. But what I remembered that day was the security and serenity of the little house on Havana Street and how safe I felt there.
I long for a safe place. Maybe you long for a safe place. Where we don’t have to be afraid. Where there is no hatred or violence and where people are trustworthy and where we can all feel secure and loved and well cared for.
And in our scriptures for today we have a glimpse of that safe place. We have the picture from Psalm 125 of the strong, everlasting hills surrounding Jerusalem. They protect the city from harm as it nestles safely in the valley. Which is the way God surrounds and protects us. So hold that picture in your heart.
Now you remember how it was about sheep don’t you, and goats?
In the Old Testament days and on into the New Testament days all but the very, very poorest families kept at least one sheep or one goat. And those little animals were life-savers for the family. They provided milk, and cheese and meat, and their skins were made into warm blankets and clothing and their horns were even used as musical instruments. They were precious and valuable. And shepherds were entrusted with the care of these precious, valuable animals. Sometimes all the families in a village would hire one shepherd to care for all their lambs. They kept them safely in a pen all night long – with high walls and a sturdy gate that locked. That pen protected the sheep from the lions and wolves and bandits and thieves who roamed the hills in that wilderness area. In the morning the shepherd would lead them out into the dry dessert hills outside the village. They would wander among the sand and scrubby little trees and pricker bushes. They would climb over the rocks and into the crevices and little caves and sometimes they would stray away. The shepherd would call them back and lead them to where he knew the pools of water were and where green grass grew for them to graze.
Or sometimes the small sheep would be injured among the rocks and cracks and crevices of the path and then the shepherd would search for them and carry them back to the rest of the flock.
And at night, he would count all the sheep as they clustered and crammed back into pen and sometimes he would even lay his own body down in front of the gate at night for extra safety for the sheep.
And I am remembering the great king David. He was a rich, powerful, wise, God-loving king and under his leadership the country became well organized and wealthy and larger than ever before. He also had a lot of enemies, and you might remember that he spent a lot of time in the caves in those hills around Jerusalem. Hiding out from his enemies. And in those caves he wrote songs, maybe even the one we read this morning: Psalm 23, which Cindy also sang for us. I’m picturing that king in that cave. He’s remembering the times when he was shepherd boy in the rocky barren wilderness where there’s hardly any water and where almost nothing grows. And he remembered how he knew the places where there were pools of fresh water to drink and grass for his sheep to eat, and he led them to those sweet places. He had his heavy thick rod (like a very large baseball bat) and his strong staff and he defended his sheep from wolves and lions lurking among the hills. And maybe still in that cave, with his enemies searching through the hills for him, David had this picture in his mind: that God had set a table for him – a long table, lavishly loaded every kind of good food and delicacy and overflowing drinks. As if to show his enemies how God loves him and cares for him and provides all his needs. And in that cave David breathes deeply and in utter security. He says, “To the end of my life God’s goodness and compassion will be my constant companions and I will live in the luxury of God’s presence with me daily.”
Maybe your life is one series of challenges after another and maybe there really are people out there who want to do you harm. And maybe you are fearful and lonely and you long for a little time with God in a safe cave. Picture the ways that God feeds you lavishly and restores your soul when you are utterly depleted. Stay in that cave for a while with the God who promises and provides for you.
Maybe you go out every day among the thorns and the scrubby trees and the very dry, hot dessert and the pricker bushes. Maybe you long for cool water and green grass. Maybe you’ve fallen among the rocks and cracks and crevices. Maybe you’ve strayed away and lost your way and you can’t find your way home. Then hear Jesus calling your name in the darkness. Hear him searching for you in the bushes and finding you in the crevices. And feel him pick you up gently and carry you home safely, where you belong.
Find that safe, secure place and flourish there.
I Corinthians 3:1-15
First lesson: Psalm 1:1-3
Children’s time: I Samuel 3:1-18
May 22, 2016
Now you might remember that little church in Corinth, in Greece. We hung out in Corinth for a few weeks several months ago and we talked a bit about that church then. Pastor Paul had been in Corinth for about 18 months in about the year 50 or 52 and had started that brand new little Christian church then. They didn’t have a church building. They didn’t need a church building. It was a very small church. Small enough so that everybody could gather in one home to worship. Small enough so that everybody could eat together in a potluck meal in somebody’s home every week. After all these years, I love it that we even know the names of some of these people. There were a husband and wife team of Priscilla and Aquilla who had a leather working business (and by the way, her name is always mentioned first, so we suppose that she was really the brains behind the business.) And there was Crispus who had been the President of the Jewish synagogue in Corinth, and Titius Justus who opened his home for worship and Gaius and Stephanus and Fortunatus and there was at least one wealthy, well established, business woman named Chloe.
In that small church there was a great mix of people. Some in the church were wealthy, well established business people. They were used to making their own decisions and running their own businesses and ordering their slaves around and they were not used to cooperating with others or collaborating. Then there were the slaves and free servants of these wealthy folks who lived with them and who obeyed because they had to. A huge diversity of folks. And as you may recall, there was this squabbling going on about how some people were coming to their congregational meals hungry and not waiting for the others before they ate, and eating up everything they could. Perhaps because there was nothing to eat at home.
It was a small, diverse church and it was also an isolated church. The nearest Christian Church to Corinth was 200 miles away by ship to Ephesus in Turkey. Or 300 miles by ship to Thessalonica and 400 miles by ship to Philippi. And those churches were also very small, very new, very struggling churches. The brand new Christians in Corinth had lots of other Jews all around them in Corinth, and they could have told them how to be a Jewish synagogue. But they didn’t have any other Christian churches to tell them how to be a Christian Church or tell them anything at all about Jesus. Once Paul had left.
So they made things up. And had differences of opinion about it all and they fought.
After Pastor Paul left, Pastor Apollos came. And after he left they made things up again and had differences of opinion and fought again. And we have the impression that they argued and fought and had serious conflicts and controversies about all kinds of things. Some people quoted what Pastor Paul had said and some people quoted what Pastor Apollos had said. Some of them lined themselves up behind Paul and some lined themselves up behind Apollos. And some of them had apparently heard about Peter and they lined themselves up behind Peter. And they were fighting it out among each other. Until finally they heard that Paul was over there in Ephesus and they sent Fortunatus and Stephanus with a list of questions to ask him. To get his answers and maybe resolve some of their conflicts. And while they waited, Paul sat down and wrote out the answers to their questions.
And he said to them, “What is this I hear about all this squabbling and fighting among you? What is this I hear about some of you claiming me and quoting me and some of you claiming Apollos and quoting Apollos? And some of you claiming Peter? We are only your servants.” (He says this to people who have housefuls of slaves and servants. They know all about servants.) Paul says to them, “God gave each one of us a task. I came first and I planted the seeds of faith there in Corinth. I was the first to tell you about Jesus and how to be the followers of Jesus and how to be a Christian Church. And after I left Apollos came. And he watered the seeds I had planted. But it was God who made the seeds grow. Only God can produce a lush harvest. The planter and the waterer are only planters and waterers. The credit for a field full of ripening wheat goes to God.
And then he shifts the metaphor just a bit, and says, “I laid a foundation with you there in Corinth and others are building on that foundation, but that foundation is Jesus Christ. Everything we know and do is built on Jesus Christ, that firm foundation.”
And that, my beloved congregation, is the story of North Kent Presbyterian Church. Right in front of your very eyes.
I’m so glad that Sally Luidens was our liturgist today. Her father was a very early pastor of North Kent church, and as you recall, their family arrived just as the roof was blown off this church in a great tornado. But the foundation stayed firm. Some of you remember having worship and meetings and Sunday School classes and choir rehearsals in the manse next door. You remember Rev. Luidens’ strong voice in the choir. He built on that strong foundation and you re-built the roof on that strong foundation. Then came other pastors – including Kurt Stiansen, and Walter Teeuwissen and Dwight Hillstrom and Helen Collins and Paula Vander Hoven and soon for a very short time Bert Nelson and then before long Karen Fitz La Barge will be here. We are seed planters. We are waterers. Maybe we do a little weeding. Maybe we plow the field a little. Maybe we cover up the tender seedlings when frost is predicted. Maybe we stake up the weak plants. Maybe we trim the bushes occasionally. But God is the Master Gardener and the harvest belongs to God. And none of us takes any credit along the way. Because we are servants. Slaves. We do what we have been called to do.
We love you while we’re here with you. We sit with you and hear your pain and we listen to your hard questions and your sadnesses. We are here with you when loved ones die. We sit with you and we celebrate your successes with you. We laugh a lot with you and eat good food together a lot. We live among you and we talk about Jesus constantly and what it means to be a follower of Jesus. We talk about God, and what life with God can be like and we point you to God. But we only point.
We celebrate what God has done at North Kent Church while Jack Luidens was here and Dwight Hillstrom and the others. We thank God for all that. Today especially we are thanking God for fifty years of servant ministry for Dwight Hillstrom and for Edie alongside him, and especially we are thanking God for what they meant to this church at an important moment in your history. We are remembering the large addition to this building – the conference room and classrooms and offices and a large part of our fellowship hall - that were added during his ministry here. But the foundation of this building is Jesus Christ. Dwight Hillstrom and all of you built on that foundation. It is such a pleasure to think back and remember all that happened here. I hope you will spend lots of time talking and reminiscing well together during Coffee Hour. I hope you will tell wonderful stories and enjoy each other’s company. And thank God for it all.
But this is God’s church. It’s not Jack Luidens’ church or Kurt Stiansen’s church or Walter Teeuwissen’s church, or Dwight Hillstrom’s church or Helen Collins’ church or Paula Vander Hoven’s church or Karen Fitz La Barge’s church. Sometimes I call you my beloved congregation, and I do love you. But really, this is the church of Jesus Christ. You are the beloved congregation of Jesus Christ. And he will lead you into the future that the Spirit of God will show you.
FIRST LESSON: Joel 2:23-29
SECOND LESSON: Acts 2:1-16
TIME FOR CHILDREN: Acts 10:1-48
Now you remember how that was, don’t you? Jesus’ twelve disciples had all been very active men with important jobs (at least the ones that we know about.) They were used to working hard and being responsible and doing what they had to do. Then Jesus had come along and had recruited them, and if anything they were more busy and more active with more important things to do. They were working hard day and night and facing significant obstacles and seldom taking a break and doing what Jesus called them to do. He talked a lot about his coming kingdom and they talked a lot about his coming kingdom. Which they were sure they would have some very important part in, and they had high hopes for their glorious future together. With Jesus. In Jerusalem. When he was king.
And then suddenly, that was all over. Jesus was dead and gone. They had lost all sense of direction or purpose in their lives. Their hopes for a coming kingdom had died along with Jesus. It was starting to sink in that there wasn’t going to be any brand new kingdom and there wouldn’t be any important roles for them in the inner circle of the brand new king.
They had all kinds of questions about what they had done for the past three years - knocking themselves out day and night - and for what purpose. They wondered how they could have misunderstood so badly about Jesus’ kingdom. They wondered if they could still go back to their old jobs and whether they would want to. They were in mourning and grieving for Jesus and they had lost the center and passion and purpose in their own lives. And they knew very well that their own lives were in danger from the same people who had killed Jesus.
So they hunkered down together. In hiding in secret, locked rooms. They ate together and prayed together and told Jesus stories together. They remembered every word he had ever said to them, and everything he had done in front of them for three years. They read the scriptures – they poured over every shred of the scriptures, searching for some clue to help them understand it all. They searched and searched the Old Testament for some vision for their own futures.
For fifty days they did that. The eleven male disciples that were left of the original twelve, and the women disciples, certainly, and some others as well. One hundred twenty of them.
They were demoralized and discouraged and dejected.
But suddenly it all came together. The sound of a powerful wind blew through that room and little flames of fire danced on each of their heads and it all came together. All that prayer, and all that searching through the scriptures and all that remembering Jesus and quoting Jesus to each other. It all came together. And Peter preached it.
Now you haven’t forgotten Peter, have you? He’s the guy who denied three times that he had ever known Jesus. A little nobody servant girl asked him about Jesus in the middle of the night and that big, brawny, bold fisherman (as I picture him) got scared and said he had never known him.
You haven’t forgotten Peter, have you? The last time we saw Peter, Jesus was asking him, “Peter, do you love me with all your heart and soul?” And Peter replied, “Well, I’m really quite fond of you.” Three times he answered Jesus like that. We are not likely to forget Peter.
But something came over Peter that day in that room. And the others who were with him. As they were sitting together they heard the sound of violent blowing wind. They looked around at each other and saw what looked like little flames dancing around on each of them. And then the most amazing thing of all - all those very simple people – most of whom had never been out of the country that we know of – started speaking in other languages. Speaking fluently in other languages. People came rushing from all over the city when they heard that violent noise. You remember how that was – that Jews from all over the world were home in Jerusalem to celebrate the Pentecost holiday with their family and friends and to worship in the temple. They came running to see what all the noise was about and they heard Peter and all the others speaking in the languages of all the places they had come from. And they concluded that all of them must be drunk. One hundred and twenty of them. At nine o’clock in the morning.
But they weren’t drunk. They were full of the Holy Spirit and Peter got up and preached it. Boldly. With conviction. He quoted the prophet Joel which he had just been reading. He quoted the Psalms of David which he had just been reading. And put it all together and he preached that Jesus had been sent from God and had done miracles among them. That he had been handed over to the Jewish elders and priests who had executed him on a cross. Which had been God’s plan all along. But God raised him from death and welcomed him to sit on his throne. (Not a throne in Jerusalem, but a throne in the glories of heaven.)
Now this is all very familiar to us and it doesn’t sound very special. We’ve heard this all again and again all of our lives, and we’ve said it again and again. But this was the very first time in the history of the world that those words had been said. The first time that anybody had ever said that Jesus had been sent by God, and that he died on a cross, which was God’s plan. And whom God raised back to life again. And then Peter said a very dangerous thing to all those Jews who had come running. He said “You have killed our Messiah. You have killed the one whom all the Jews have been waiting for for centuries and centuries. Jesus was that Messiah and you killed him.” Those are very dangerous words.
So here’s what happened to that big, brawny, bold fisherman who was afraid of a simple, nobody servant girl and who had said that he had never known Jesus. Here’s what happened to that man who said that all he could manage was to be very fond of Jesus. That man is gone. Way gone.
Peter has received the Holy Spirit. He is no longer hunkering down in a room afraid for what will happen to him. He’s not demoralized or discouraged or dejected. He’s going to preach a passionate, eloquent sermon and 3,000 people are going to be added to the church in one day. Brand new Christian Churches are going to be formed in all those places all over the world where those people have come from. That man Peter is going to travel all over the world preaching what he just preached so powerfully.
He’s going to hear God speaking to him in ways he can’t misunderstand. (Like in the story I told the children.) He’s going to discard a lot of what he always thought was true, and he’s going to come to some bold, new understandings of what God is asking of him. (Like in the children’s story.) And he’s going to follow God into some pretty amazing places. All because the Holy Spirt has come to him.
So see what happens when the Holy Spirit comes to us, North Kent Church? See how our lives change? See how we can be transformed from being timid little, scared little, discouraged little people? See how purposeful and powerful we can become, and how we can catch a brand new vision of who we can be and how we can be? See how we can dream new dreams and have visions, and see how we can do things we never even dared to imagine?
We may be asked to let go of some old ideas that we have always held on to. We may be called to do some new and even scary things. We may have new energy and new passion and new ideas and in fact, we may become new people, in the companionship of the Holy Spirit.
Until pretty soon we won’t know ourselves any more. That’s what happens to people when the Holy Spirit gets ahold of them. That’s what happens to a whole church full of people when the Holy Spirit comes over them.
So North Kent Church: Do you see yourselves in this story of Peter at Pentecost? How do you see yourselves? A moment of silence to pray and ponder that.
FIRST LESSON II Timothy 1:1-10
TIME FOR CHILDREN Mark 4:1-19
May 1, 2016
Sometimes we have inserts in our bulletin to help us picture the scripture passage. Or help us understand it better. Today we have a living, breathing, young woman here to illustrate our passages. Renae Venman was born into this church and was confirmed here. Her grandparents, John and Diane were charter members of the church and her father has served this church as a Youth Group leader and Sunday school teacher and elder and now a deacon. She and her mother Sandy and her father Jev and her brother JD have been in worship and have been an active part of this church since the day she was born. Some of you cared for her in the church nursey, I suppose. Some of you were her Sunday School teachers. You have literally watched her grow up here. You have helped her grow in faith here. And you have loved her into the beautiful young woman she is today. From the time she has been a very young girl, you have taught her about Jesus and told her stories about Jesus. As she became a young woman you told her that God is always with her to love her and care for her. And now in the goodness and grace and love of God, you are sending her to Brazil. To share with others what you have shared with her.
A few minutes ago you all rose from your seats and laid your hands on her in a beautiful circle of love that extended far down the aisles of this church. We prayed prayers of thanks for her life and her faith and we asked God’s rich blessing on her as she does what we are sending her to do.
In this church, Renae has been attached to Jesus the way a grape branch is attached to the vine. And the way a tree limb is attached to the trunk. She has been well watered and well-tended and now she is producing fruit. Luscious grapes from those vines. The faith of her grandparents and her parents and of you, her North Kent family, is growing in her. A few weeks ago she sang for us, “Amazing Grace.” And today that is beautifully obvious.
Her name is Renae, and she’s going to Brazil in the year 2016 but she goes in the spirit of Timothy whom we have just read about. Who went to Turkey in about the year 100.
So, Renae, as you begin your ministry may I read for you these words to Timothy: “Keep alive the gift that God gave you. The Spirit that God has given us does not make us timid. Instead, God’s Spirit fills us with power, and love and self-control.” Vaya con Dios, Renae. Go with God.
A few weeks ago on Easter Sunday Lauren Brasure, another young woman of this congregation stood in this very pulpit and gave a beautiful testimony of God’s guidance and goodness in her life. These last months have been a very difficult, very painful time in her life. This congregation has prayed her through very serious surgeries and tough therapy sessions and a lot of unanswered questions. Lauren stood here and spoke of God’s goodness to her through it all and God’s guidance of her in the unknown path ahead.
And it doesn’t stop with Lauren and Renae. Now you are fulfilling your promises to Norah and Tom and Konrad and Joshua and Jaydalyn and Cassia and Morgen and Coral and Amayah. Very soon Norah and Jaydalyn and Cassia will be receiving Bibles from this church. A wonderful, committed team of teachers are teaching Sunday School and others are staffing our church nursery. And in a couple of weeks more we’ll be commissioning Tom and Norah and Morgen and Jade and Cassia to go to Camp Greenwood, on full scholarships from the loving folks in this church. Where I tell you, they will have life-changing experiences in their faith.
So see what that looks like when the branches are attached to the vine? See what that looks like when a whole church full of people who know God and love God and serve God raise their children to know God and love God and serve God? See what it looks like when a whole church full of people draw their strength and their nourishment from Jesus? Every single day.
The pleasure and the joy and the anticipation continues. A week from today we will worship with Karen Fitz La Barge, and we all anticipate that you will call her to be your next pastor. It’s a day we have been looking forward to in this church for eighteen months. A day that our Pastoral Nominating Committee has been working hard for. And you are looking forward to the future God has for you as a growing, thriving church.
Jesus reminds us how that is. He says “Remain in me and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain attached to the vine. And you can’t produce any fruit unless you remain attached to me.”
Because here’s what happens to branches that aren’t attached to the vines. They don’t get the water and nutrients they need from the roots and the vines and they wither. They don’t produce grapes. Their leaves become brown and dry and ugly and they fall off. And somebody comes along and throws them on the compost pile.
So see how that works, North Kent Church? You can’t give what you don’t have. You can’t raise children to know Jesus and to love God unless you know Jesus and love God yourselves. You can’t give them that beautiful foundation in faith unless you have it yourselves. It doesn’t happen out of thin air that two beautiful young women in this church demonstrate such beautiful Christian lives. It happens because they have been taught, in this church and in others. They have become serious students of the scripture. They have learned to pray, fervently and deeply. They have felt the movement of God’s Spirit in their lives and the guidance of God’s gentle nudging. They have had serious conversations with others about faith and life and how we live our faith. It started in this place and it has continued.
In the past several months we have had several guests come to talk with us after worship. We have invited them to share with us what a growing, thriving, healthy church looks like. Folks from the Rockford United Church of Christ have been here. Folks from the Blythefield Christian Reformed Church just up the street have been here. They have talked about their transitions from larger churches that became much smaller and discouraged and back to being the larger, lively churches they now are – with lots of younger folks and kids. Rev. Dr. Todd Cioffi and a team of his students from Calvin College have been here to help us think about what younger folks are looking for in a church. Rev. Dr. Jack Stewart has been here to talk about what thriving churches have in common. (And by the way, whenever I see them they ask about you.)
And all of them said this one thing: They all said there isn’t any one magic formula or any one glitzy program or any one person or any one guaranteed recipe that will grow a church quick. They all said, pretty much in the same words, even, that it’s about getting back to the basics – to solid preaching and church wide, robust Bible study for the adults. It’s about having strong Christian Education programs for children and youth. It’s about learning how to pray and praying. It’s about recognizing the presence of God and the leading of God and then following God’s leading. It’s about patterning our lives after Jesus and making him the center of our lives. And it’s about learning hospitality. And over time, when all these things are well in place, growth happens slowly and churches begin to thrive – over time.
Younger folks are not looking for a happy little club where nice people all speak nicely to each other and enjoy each other’s company. They have all sorts of other places where they can find that. What younger folks are looking for is a place to learn about God. And learn to know God. And experience God. And discover Jesus. And grow in their faith. They are looking for a place to ask hard questions and struggle with the answers in a safe atmosphere. They long to sit with people who are experienced in faith and can read scripture with them and mentor them in our Christian lives and guide them gently without judging them. And value them even when they make mistakes and don’t know it all and don’t have all the answers. Younger folks are looking for people who will appreciate them and welcome them genuinely even when they don’t know how things are always done around here and sometimes do it wrong. They are looking for adults who will take the time to know them and learn to communicate with them and are patient and accepting of them. They are looking for a place where they can live out that faith in loving actions toward their neighbors and where they can have a view of God as sovereign in this crazy, messed up world.
It’s about having wise, seasoned, spiritually sensitive adults who are firmly attached to the vine and who then nurture younger folks.
Is that you, North Kent Church?
And it starts with this table. Where we are reminded who we are whose we are and whom we are attached to.