February 4th, 2012

rose window

Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings

I've spoken to two of our Scouts who are preaching in the morning; another is in pep band, and I won't be able to really talk with him till he gets home from the basketball game. In any case, I am confident that they are going to do a great job.

I enjoy preaching, but I've said about everything I went into the ministry to say. I take it as a duty to explain and exhort and to call the lost home, but I am not in love with the sound of my own voice; I recognize that developing in others the ability to share their faith is also important. I like the fact that there are others in the congregation who can give a sermon or a witness on a Sunday morning. That shows strength, spiritual depth.

Given my lifelong involvement with confirmation classes, youth groups, and Scouting, I find myself quite as confident in yielding my pulpit to youth as to adult lay speakers. The youngest person ever to preach in my stead was a ten-year-old girl. Tomorrow's speakers are two 13-year-olds and a 14-year-old. Each is speaking briefly, taking as a starting point one of the three parts of the Scout Oath: duty to God and country; duty to others; duty to self.

Years ago, I was comparing notes with a friend from Evansville. I was then pastoring a little two-point charge in the hinterlands. At the church which chartered our Boy Scout Troop, my 13-year-old Senior Patrol Leader preached on Scout Sunday. At Big and Shiny UMC in the City, the Senior Pastor had reluctantly been persuaded to yield his pulpit to one of their Troop's Eagle Scouts, who was then serving as Chief Justice of the Indiana Supreme Court. In comparing how Scout Sunday went in my church and hers, we both agreed my young Scout probably preached at least as good a sermon as the Chief Justice, who by all accounts wasn't too shabby.

The point is, I believe in God. I know what he can do. And that means I believe in young people and am happy to stand aside and let them show what God can do through them.