Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Our children are amazing -- Coming of Age 2006

Balanced, not on the head, but on the point of the pin that is the dangerously beautiful tightrope walk between childhood and youth, they take to the pulpit and make us remember why we do this work.

In my congregation, the Coming of Age 8th graders take responsibility to plan and implement the entire COA service. Music, readings, chalice lightings, meditation -- and they all write and read credos. They dress up (for them.) There's a little pomp and ritual as we welcome them from childhood into the world of youth.

They don't come from nowhere, but from hundreds and thousands of hours of community and content and collective responsibility. This responsibility is shown in myriad of ways -- from Sunday morning RE classes to potlucks and trivia contests and Habitat for Humanity Saturdays and October Halloween Haunted Houses (if your congregation doesn't take advantage of this group building leadership development opportunity, ask me how), to Middle School Rallies to making beautiful gift baskets for our winter shut-ins. All of these are oportunities within our community to model a meaningful religious life and spiritual practise, and lead our young people in exploring their community one with another, their faith community, and their larger world. All of these things are part of what our community contributes to the beauty that we see in these young people on that special day each June.

We initiate them into a world where risk and responsibility dance in close proximity; a world where we commit ourselves to stand near as a community to catch them if they need, but no longer require certain acts or participation as when they were young children. We step back and provide structured autonomy within which they can continue to explore and grow.

Every June I am reminded why I love my job.

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