“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,…”
There was a time when many young people grew up in a well ordered supportive world. Family members were close at hand. Uncles, aunts, grandparents and cousins hovered around our lives. The ‘bleachers’ of the community were full of family and friends, cheering our successes and lamenting our failures. To be sure, people were no better or worse in the ‘good ol’ days’ but when compared with today many, many more children grew up in the midst of the strong, supportive structures of family, church and community.
For many young people today that world is largely gone. The bleachers are empty. Families are scattered everywhere. Ours is no exception. Our immediate family members can be found in Hawaii, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles. In such an environment it is not hard to understand the bewilderments of so many young people, their cynicism and uncertainty about the future. Where do they find an enduring set of values by which to order their lives, something worth living for?
When many young people look at the church, the community that points to the magnetic figure of Jesus, and His call to follow Him into loving service, they are often disillusioned by the time and energy poured into pursuing wealth and comfort by those who sit in the pews.
An old story tells of a young orphan boy who was taunted for his faith; ‘It seems your God has forgotten you”, someone said to him. “No”, he replied, “God has not forgotten me. But God’s people have.”
The Church has always been a place where the lost are found, where the hopless find hope, where those disillusioned or crushed by the brokeness of their earthly families find the love and support of God’s family. Not only are we surrounded by that great cloud of witnesses, cheering us on from the halls of heaven, we also have a role. People caught in the dislocation, alienation and mass estrangement of our time are searching for a place to stand; where an authentic life of faith, hope and love is really possible. The church can be such a place.
“May the peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord.”