Saturday, March 17, 2018

Listening to the Lives of Marin Families
Psalm 119:9-16

Lately, young people have been on my heart.

My son is sixteen, and while he’s a good kid, my general impression is that teenage boys are a danger to themselves and others.  I’ve sat with too many parents after their teenagers broke their hearts. I found myself praying just this morning, “May my son survive his teens.”

Then, as I write this, it’s been a week since a young man shot and killed seventeen people at a high school in Florida.  Young people all over the country are understandably, rightfully, demanding that the grown-ups in their lives do a better job of protecting them.

And then there are the young people in our neighborhood in Marin County.  They see the congregation I serve, a congregation of graying activists, as irrelevant.  I no longer believe that a new style of music or moveable chairs will “attract” young people to a tradition they suspect of being closed-minded, dogmatic, homophobic, definitely uncool, and more concerned with life after death than human lives on this planet.

But all this makes the psalmist’s question achingly poignant: “How can young people keep their way pure?”  I read “pure” as wholesome, healing, not only for the individual but for the community.  The psalmist’s answer is to learn the rules of one’s faith and follow them.  I suspect our individualistic, secular culture in Marin would bristle at this solution.  So how do young people today grow beyond selfishness, self-centeredness, to health and wholeness for all of God’s creation?

This question is left to individual families to answer.  That is a lonely path.  How can the Church, shunted to the margins for too many good reasons, listen, and help?  How can we be at least a resource, if we know we are not going to be the “answer”?

Rev. Dr. Joanne Whitt
SFTS MDiv 1997
SFTS DMin 2007