One of the first times I felt called to the life of pastoral ministry was on Youth Sunday in my grandmother’s church (First Baptist Church of Rhodhiss, NC). My mother, brother and I had been looking for a congregation to call home, but it was difficult for us to find a place where we felt welcomed and supported. We met my grandmother’s pastor at a community gathering, and he invited me to take part in the service. I hadn’t been to his church in years, but that didn’t faze him. He asked me to read Psalm 139:
“O Lord, you have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from far away.
You search out my path and my lying down,
and are acquainted with all my ways…
For it was you who formed my inward parts;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works; that I know very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth….
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts…”
Eboo Patel, American Muslim and founder of Interfaith Youth Core, reminds us that many people understand religion as little more than “old men saying no.” Psalm 139 paints a different picture. It tells us of a God who intimately forms, knows, and values each of us. It issues a declaration to God’s creation: “You are fearfully and wonderfully made.”
I had never heard these words before, but they struck me deeply. I practice them over and over again. By the time Sunday came, I had them memorized. I can still recall them today.
This Sunday is Youth Sunday here at Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church. The youth and children who call our congregation home will lead us in worship at both the 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. services. Take a moment this week to reflect on what this annual practice means to each of them.
Let the crackling of young voices, the nervousness of their first public appearance, and the youthful vitality they bring to our congregation remind you of the intimate value God has placed on your life. Let it be an assurance that their presence is more than a sign of God’s promised tomorrow; it is a declaration that God is forming and reforming our community in the here and now.