In teaching our teens the importance of ecclesiology (community life), we seek to involve them in various ways in our youth services (and hopefully in the Sunday services). Sometimes this involves risk, like when you ask someone to lead the opening prayer time.
Tonight was one of those nights where we took the risk.
There are kids you ask and you know what they're going to pray/say is going to be right on the theological money, while there are other teens who you're sure they'll pray with sincerity and passion but not necessarily with informed theology, and there are other teens who pray without passion or informed God understanding. I think all of them need to be invited to pray.
The teen that was chosen tonight has courage and an incredibly deep understanding of God. But he can be goofy too. So when he stepped up to the microphone and declared that he was going to pray as "Sgt. Teddy Bear" my heart almost stopped.
Then the prayer that Sgt. Teddy Bear prayed was so selfish, so condemning, so painful. It was something like this, "Dear God, these people need help. You know how I can't stand these people. I don't know how you put up with them..." As this prayer is sent floating through the air my spirit is sinking with the dread of wondering how to follow this, pleading with God for divine intervention.
As my mind is scrambling, Sarge stops. Adam interupts. He tells Sarge that's not how we pray. Then Adam proceded to pray one of the most insightful, thoughtful, kind, loving, spirit-filled prayers I've ever heard from a teenager. I don't remember all the lines, but I do remember something like these: "God, fill us with the warmth of your holiness. You have brought us hear for a reason and we need to receive from you tonight. Your love is more than enough for us."
My spirit soared. God reminded me of a passage in Luke about a tax collector and Pharisee.
Community takes risks.