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13 Pentecost / Shepherding the Valley #4 - Luke 1:39-50

Two women have a heart to heart conversation.

"I look up to you," one says, squeezing the other's shaking hand.

"I remember that God has always been faithful," she responds.

The old lady smiles as her heroine, the teenage girl, continues: "the past gives me hope for the future."

The silver haired pastor's wife sits at the feet of the middle schooler, drinking in her wisdom as she sings her lullaby of revolution.

They both need each other.

They are both impossibly pregnant with God's promises.

As often happens looking at art, we can peer into Luke's beautiful portrait and see ourselves.

The Twin Valleys Lutheran Parish has identified ministry with youth and young adults as one of its four priorities.

This addresses the first question from a forum a couple weeks ago: how will our congregation benefit from joining the parish, a version of the all important question Jesus never asked: What's in it for me?

The truth is, we need youth and young adults, and always have.

Take them out of God's story and you have no Mary, no disciples, no Samuel, no Esther, no Jeremiah, no Joshua, no David, and no Jesus, who was done in by religion at age thirty.

Today we are a church with a lot of silver hair, yet pregnant with God's future.

It stirs and leaps inside us when we hear the excited faith of the young—painfully as well as joyfully.

We are honored and wondrously blessed by the young among us.

It may not be obvious, but youth and young adults can also benefit from the church too.

Mary needed stability and shelter—physical, emotional, spiritual, and more—from world and religion that labeled her blessing a sin, a curse, a mistake, a moral failure.

Who would welcome and honor her if Elizabeth did not?

Who will welcome and honor youth and young adults, especially the single pregnant desperate endangered ones, if we do not?

Suicidal thoughts and attempts spike like daggers during adolescent and college years; being a teenager and a young adult is ridiculously hard, especially in this cruel culture that is so toxically devoid of grace.

A bright, bubbly, talented freshman in high school was assigned homework in English: to write a letter to her future self.

She wrote about her worries that she will have no friends.

When her mother told me this, I made the mistake of laughing; I had forgotten how real and how painful this is at fourteen.

I had forgotten that Mary had to flee to the mountains to find one.

Ancient unwed pregnancy and modern pressures can turn the transition to adulthood into a life-or-death situation; sometimes youth and young adults need us as much as we need them.

So with a mixture of love and self-interest, our signature human blend of saint and sinner, our newborn parish is prioritizing youth and young adults.

Without them, we might not have a parish.

That's not a platitude; that's a conclusion from history.

I've been to the meetings; I've wondered whether this parish idea will actually work.

But like Mary, the past gives me hope for the future.

We have already collaborated successfully for years—on confirmation.

Our youth have already brought us together.

They have already shown the way; they have already sung God's new song into our ears, singing the old, old story of Jesus and his love.

Listen for their voices, dear church.

When you hear them, something sacred inside you will leap for joy.

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