A few weeks ago, our preschool and Kindergarten class talked about what it means to be a member of the church and what it feels like to belong. One of their activities was to create laminated membership cards that identified them as children of God and members of God's family. It was a simple enough project and conversation. What a joy, then, to see the pride our kids had in their membership cards. Tucked in shirt pockets or gripped tightly in their hands, the children were delighted to show me they ID cards and tell me that they were part of God's family.
This weekend, we celebrated 17 of our middle school teens who have been preparing for confirmation and have decided to officially join the church. In the weeks leading up to this decision, I have listened as our young people try to put words to their faith, and come back again and again to what it feels like to belong. They appreciate the love and acceptance they feel here from people of all ages. They are thankful to be surrounded by people who often have known them for longer than they can remember. And they want to be part of the community so they can help others feel that same sense of place and purpose as they work together to reach out and share the joy of acceptance with the larger community.
In a speech to the national assembly of United Methodist Women just over a week ago, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton talked about her faith and the United Methodist Church she grew up in.
"I love that church. I love how it made me feel about myself," Clinton said. "I love the doors that it opened in my understanding of the world, I loved the way it helped to deepen my faith and ground it."
I am so glad that our young people's experience of church similarly helps them feel loved and valued, and that Willow Glen UMC can be a place where they belong. As our kids continue to grow, a sense of belonging is so crucial to how they feel about themselves and gives them a foundation for branching out into the world. Who knows what plans God has for them? I can't wait to see how each of them touches and changes the world for the better. They certainly have touched my life and inspired me to dig deeper into my own faith.
We also welcomed our second graders into CrossWalk this weekend, inviting them into a new relationship with their church friends and giving them a new place to belong. As our elementary kids connected over goofy banana games and banana splits, I had an overwhelming sense of the power of community to ground us in faith and strengthen us for the path ahead. As always, I am grateful to a congregation that has embraced members of all ages, loving and caring for all children of God as they grow in faith. As the song Church on Fire says, "The Spirit is here and it's power is real. Anything can happen and it probably will. Something very good, something good is going on around here."
Thanks for letting me be part of it! I have the best job in the world.
If you weren't able to be in worship yesterday, here are the highlights of our Confirmation Sunday: