Aug. 10, 2016
Dear Hyde Park Family,
One day they’re in diapers, and then before you know it, they are off to high school.
That’s what came to mind this morning as I drove Grace to Plant High School and Madelyn to Wilson Middle for their first day of school. I know I’m not alone in feeling that way. As many of you return to the familiar rhythms of late night homework and early rising, you join me in taking a deep, collective and wistful breath. These days – these exciting, exhausting, enchanting days, that seem both like a sprint and a marathon – these are days to be cherished. Because before we know it, it’s over.
It’s the same emotionally rich feeling we have at the church this time of year. We are in full back to school mode, as the staff and lay volunteers are all preparing for a full slate of children and youth programs. Last Sunday, the youth had their kickoff event for the start of Merge, which you can read about here. This Sunday is also “Move Up Sunday” in our children’s ministry, as kids officially move up to the next grade level. You can learn more about the vast array of terrific age-level ministries here. Better yet, you can be involved in making a difference in our kids by being part of one of our children and youth volunteer teams. If you would like to know more, contact Children’s Director Kristin Passath or Youth Director Emily Felgenhauer.
This Sunday also continues our “Life With” series on relationships, and coincides with the start of school. We often consider young people to be the “next generation,” as if the major responsibilities of society and community can only be held by older generations. But the power and impact of our youth is not solely relegated to the future; it can and should be experienced and unleashed today.
That’s why, this Sunday, we are calling our youth “The Now Generation,” and we hope that you will join us as we all hear God’s call to be Elis for the Samuels in our community. To do that, we should all focus our hearts and minds in prayer to God, as we lift up praise and prayer for the young people in our community. To that end, I offer this prayer, to guide you in your own spiritual reflection.
At this start of a new year of education and ministry, we first give thanks for the many ways that you are a loving parent and teacher to all of us. Your love reminds us that we are all your children, and students under your tutelage. You guide us toward a life of wholeness and decency, instruct us with the principles of holy living, and correct our missteps with grace and love. We are privileged to learn the lessons that you teach us, and to influence our own youth through our example.
We pray for our schools, both public and private, and lift up the teachers who have the noble task of educating the most impressionable among us. Grant them patience in the classroom, wisdom in their counsel and endurance for the year ahead. May they receive from us the affirmation they richly deserve but rarely receive.
We pray for school administrators, staff, and support personnel. Enable them to negotiate the tough decisions our schools face today, including underfunding, rapidly changing technology, budget and program cutbacks, class size challenges and lack of parental support. Guide our political leaders to provide the resources our schools desperately need.
We pray for the parents and families of the children in our community. Call them into a deeper level of involvement in the education of their kids and in support of their schools. Help them negotiate their increasingly hectic lives and teach them to find balance between busyness and family time. We pray for the widespread presence of poverty among many families in our area, and ask that you would guide this church into ways that might minister to the least among us.
We pray that all our school campuses will be secure and healthy. Stem the tide of gun violence and reduce the presence of bullying. Surround our children with role models that encourage decent behavior and healthy choices. May our children flourish in an environment that is safe, fun and intellectually energizing.
We pray that our schools may be places of learning beyond the goals of standardized testing. May our children discover a passion for subjects that encompass the broad scope of the human enterprise. Cultivate within them an interest in the arts. Teach them teamwork and cooperation through organized sports. Help them learn to be respectful to themselves and to others. And may they learn to be global contributors to a rapidly changing world.
We pray for the ministries to children and youth in our church. Thank you for the faithful work of staff and volunteers throughout the year, and for the many ways that they will make your love real to our kids. Grant our volunteer shepherds, counselors and mentors the wisdom and love that will make a deep and eternal impact on future generations. Raise up awareness and support from all of us in this congregation, that we might continue to provide these ministries at a consistently high level.
Most of all, Lord, we pray for our children and youth. Guide them in discovering their truest identity in the grand, ongoing story of your love. Help them embody the ideals of the Bible’s greatest youth:
- Grant them the fortitude of Joseph to withstand temptation;
- Give them the song of Miriam, to lead others into the fullness of your joy;
- Grant them the courage of Esther, to give themselves selflessly to others;
- Give them the strength of Daniel to maintain their convictions and commitment to you;
- Grant them the ears of Samuel, to hear your voice and follow your commands;
- Give them the passion of David, to order their lives around praise and confidence in You;
- Grant them the obedience of Mary, to bear a word of hope and promise for the world;
- And give them the power of Jesus, to “grow in wisdom, stature, and favor with You and others;
God, we remember that you have placed a sense of eternity in our hearts, and we acknowledge that we cannot fully see all that you have done from the beginning to the end. Help us to live up to the great responsibility you have given us in this finite time by being faithful stewards of our children. And may they forge ahead into the bright future that you have envisioned for them.
In the name of Jesus Christ, our Rabbi, teacher, and Lord,
Grace and Peace,
The Rev. Magrey deVega
Senior Pastor, Hyde Park United Methodist