The December 30 sermon I (don’t) think I’m going to preach

Last night, my latest issue of Brain, Child arrived.

There’s a great review by Kristin Kovacic of three books about teenagers (by the way, all of these books have longer titles, but I’m too lazy to type them, so click the links to see the subtitles):

The Stardust Lounge, by Deborah Digges

What It Takes to Pull Me Through, by David Marcus

Red, edited by Amy Goldwasser

Great review. I love book reviews that do a couple books in one shot.

As I’m reading this review, there were several quotes about how our culture is becoming “toxic” to teens, how we seem, statistically speaking, to be failing teens across the board as a culture, and even profiting from what goes wrong for them (i.e. marketing “booze, boys, and bad things” as my mother called them, to teens, profiting when they buy into it, and then profiting again when they need treatment).

Meanwhile, there was this essay by Rowan Williams (Archbishop of Canterbury), “Childhood and Choice” from the book, Lost Icons: Reflections on Cultural Bereavement that I read a few years ago, which has stuck with me. Honestly, I don’t remember the exact argument of the essay anymore, but I remember it was good. Good enough that I’ve kept the book in a prominent place so that I can find the essay back. (Good enough that I actually put in the effort to type in the subtitle!)

And, I’ve been trying to make myself finish reading Chap Clark’s Hurt (another long subtitle, on that one…). Basic premise: we’re abandoning the youth in our culture to their own little world of hurt. We’re doing this in the way we do youth ministry, too. (Aside…if someone names their kid “Chap” clearly they are sure that he will grow up to be a youth pastor.)

So, as I’m reading the review of the first three books, I’m finding this pattern of thought, and Matthew 2:18 starts running through my head:

A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled because they are no more.

I’m thinking that we as a society are maybe not doing so great with our teens. They are stressed, catered-to, loved-too-much, loved-too-little, much is expected of them, but we don’t always give enough, busy, tired…And, I know that if Rachel and God are weeping for children today, there are a whole lot of more deserving kids to talk about, kids whose lives are really a much bigger mess than my North American suburban teens.

But, what if the message of that text has something to say specifically to my context, here are now, in the middle of middle-America? The fact that Jesus had to be a teenager at some point has to count for something, too.

I have to preach on January 30. We’ll be finishing a year as a church when we read through the Bible together. (Well, some of us did. I fell off the Bible wagon in August.) I was thinking about some sermon that helps conclude that.

And, that’s probably what I’ll stick with. I’m just not sure if I can go the Rachel weeping route right now. I’m not sure I have the energy for it, or the credibility for it. I’m not sure if people can handle it a week after Christmas.

I’m not sure I can handle it a week after Christmas.

2 Responses to “The December 30 sermon I (don’t) think I’m going to preach”

  1. Mary Beth Says:

    I think if I were a parishioner I’d appreciate some closure on the whole Year of the Bible thing. But it sounds like you need (and your church needs you) to preach about Rachel weeping. I agree, maybe sometime when life isn’t so exhausting.

  2. ms rev or not Says:

    i ordered “lost icons” yesterday. i’ve been wanting to read it for some time now, and you reminded me of it. i’m vy excited.