Today a friend and I were talking about The State of Young Adults, which makes me feel so old that I actually care and talk about things like that, and retirement plans, and how much milk costs. Soon I’ll be staying up for my Friday night viewing of Wall Street Week in Review with my high-fiber, non-fat, low-sodium rice cakes, living into the party animal that I am.
At one point my friend referred to us as “bridges” between young adults and adults – able to speak to both, existing in both worlds, trying to help understanding on both sides. Young adults seem to want to be adults, but different than the adults who exist; existing adults want to think that they’re still “hip” with young adults, and yet they don’t “get” why young adults do what they do (or don’t do what they don’t do). I wondered when I would move from being a bridge to being firmly planted on the adult side of the fence: I feel I’m getting closer day by day, sometimes pushed, as I find myself saying things I *swore* I’d never say, like “use your words”, “not so fast”, and “what is that crap on the radio?”
I wondered who will be the bridge between me and my kids when they reach young adults. Will they be segregated into a removed-from-the-larger-body youth group experience? Will their peers and youth leaders be as influential in their spiritual formation as mine were? Will they drift off and find Church Life irrelevant? Or will they lead me and our family/community to a new place to experience where God is already moving?
I got a bit angry. Many of my friends who grew up in my faith community were dedicated to Christ in that very building. Their parents dressed them up, brought them to the congregation, and on a blessed Sunday made a commitment in front of the community to raise this child in the ways of Christ. The family entered into a covenant with the community and with God – sacred, holy, blessed. In return the community covenanted to walk alongside the family, to train and equip them to raise this child into the ways of Christ. And yet my friends and the community no longer walk together. I wondered: how long was that covenant called to last?
Yes, we live in a transitional society. We also live in a very nuclear-family-oriented and busy society. It’s easy for me to lose track of others because I’m focused on a) my family and 2) the things I want to do. I think we’re called to do things as a larger congregation, but I so often hear, “We’re already so involved doing so many good things!” Individually. When am I called to lay things aside, even if they’re good things, because I’ve made a covenant to the larger community?
I want the covenant that I made before God and before Newberg Friends to last as long as God will allow. If we happen to move, I hope that interest and love will still remain, even though the day-to-day walk will be transferred to a different faith community. I don’t want this covenant to be passed off to the middle school pastor, and then the high school pastor, and then … ? The slow fade into nothing, that is, until my boys get married and have children of their own, maybe still being involved in a faith community and now able to reenter as an Adult Parent, the “role” that seems most functional/understood in the evangelical Christian faith community.
My friend talked about a gal she connected with, a young single mother who is simply trying to get through one day at a time. When my friend asked what her goals or dreams or gifts were, she had no answer. She had no one walking alongside her, speaking that into her life; she felt completely disconnected to those in the faith community, the place where she was dedicated. How has it reached this point? Do we need to cast blame, or simply state it for what it is and then ask, “What is God calling us to do about it?”
How long do covenants last? Do these covenants mean anything practical, or are they simply a ritual and a Sunday morning family photo opportunity? What covenants is God asking us to renew, reclaim? If they are called to last, I feel anger, remorse, and motivation to *do* something about it: I don’t want my words to be meaningless, which they are until lived out in action. I expect the same of my faith community.
Perhaps we need to talk as a community about what that means – define expectations. Perhaps we need to evaluate where these practicalities are to be lived out – small groups versus larger congregation, etc. And perhaps we need to repent, to apologize, to take a posture of humility and hospitality. Or we can just let the slow fade continue, and our words can continue to lose their power; but this Mama Bear won’t live that way with her boys (not like they’re easy to ignore anyway; just *try* and forget about them :)).