Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Next Generation

With an even more informal greeting than usual, Brad cheerfully welcomed us to worship. He noted that our theme today would be drawn from Psalm 71 which was written by an elderly King David looking back on the lessons he'd learned over the course of his long life.

Announcements included a reminder of next week's Harvest Fest. There will be donuts waiting for us at 9:00 a.m., and at 9:30 we'll be playing the family game Minute-To-Win-It. In addition to our worship service there will be a catered lunch, pie tasting, face painting and much more.

Brad always noted that Wednesday nights will now become family nights here at the church. The goal will be to develop community. There is a need for volunteers to help in various leadership roles.

Today's Scripture reading: Matthew 18:15-20

After worship and a time of prayer Brad preached a message titled....

The Next Generation

Pastor Shannon began with an anecdote about a Covenant pastor who shared with Brad his experience in sub-Sahara Africa. One of his lingering memories was the time he spent on a small front step of a mud brick home in Zambia with an HIV AIDS-infected mother of six children. Two of these were just infants. Her first husband had died and she re-married a man who infected her with AIDS. Two of these children were by this second husband.

The pastor asked the woman if she had had the children tested for the disease, and he saw the look of fear in her eyes. The fear that her children could be part of the next wave of AIDS death on the continent was almost too much to bear.

As he left that encounter he was unable to speak for literally an hour. He could not get her situation out of his mind, and when he was asked later how it went out there he could barely enunciate the three words that came to mind... "It wrecked me." And he couldn't say another word. The leader of the compound said to him, "Let it wreck you. Don't ever forget this moment. Don't ever let it stop wrecking you."

Brad bared his heart at how the brokenness of this world is painfully evident to all of us, and sometimes it really wrecks us. Our response is sometimes like Habukkuk, who asked, "Why are You silent, God? What's Your strategy?"

Today's sermon, as noted at the opening of the service, was extracted from Psalm 71. And in verse 4 of this Psalm of David we see that the world he lived in was broken as well.

4 Deliver me, my God, from the hand of the wicked,
from the grasp of those who are evil and cruel.

David used words like wicked, evil and cruel because his world was also painfully broken. This is a man who has seen a lot of life, now at the edge of life's sunset, hair grey, body not what it used to be.

{Blog Editor: At this point I must interject that the sermon today was rich with humour interjections about aging and other things in that inimitable manner that only Pastor Brad can deliver.}

In verses 5 and 6 David asserts how he has relied on God for a lifetime, which he reiterates in verse 17. He uses these affirmations to strengthen his plea, "Do not cast me away."

The message went on to explore the relationship between the generations. In Leviticus 19 there is a command to the young to stand up and show respect for the aged. But Brad reminded those of us in the camp of the aged that we have a responsibility to live worthy of that respect.

The book of Job points out that wisdom resides among the aged. "Does not long life bring understanding?" the writer asks. there is much we can learn from those who have walked further along the road of life than ourselves. Look to your elders for wisdom.

Brad noted that despite the worlds brokenness and his own frailties upon aging, David uses the word "hope" twice in this Psalm. In verse 5 he writes, "For you have been my hope, Sovereign LORD, my confidence since my youth." And again later affirms the same. David is not a bitter old man. He is optimistic about the future.

What is the source of this optimism? Vs. 18 gives a clue. David is looking forward to influencing the next generation that will come after him. He is looking forward to what God will do through this coming generation.

David knew that God had done great things in his own lifetime, and even by his own hand. But his days were numbered. He saw the future in the hands of the young who were coming. God's greatest work in confusing times is through the young people. Young people teach us to put teeth to our faith.

Brad's message to our young people: We need you to help us shape our future. Brad's message to the older ones among us: We have a responsibility to unleash the next generation.

Young people today hunger to have older persons breathe into them, to mentor them.

The service ended with Brad having everyone who has been a follower of Jesus for more than 30 years to stand to be honored.

After the service we participated on the breaking of bread, celebrating communion.

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