Yesterday morning it was Youth Sunday here at First Presbyterian Church of Brandon.
Youth Sunday is all kinds of interesting, and – typically – comes along with mixed reviews vis-a-vis the Presbyterian modus operandi of “decently and in order” (See this week’s unique “children’s moment” skit by Ian and Hunter!).
But worship led by our young people is always inspirational, and this year it was a life-charged experience that both warmed my heart and affirmed my faith.
Every element of worship was youth led, from the prayers to the offering to the readings, the children’s moment and more. Our graduating seniors shared the message, the youth choir led the singing, and we have enough talented young people in the praise band that they carried off the accompaniment too.
During the service, eleven of our 8th graders stood at the front of the church and confirmed their faith. And this is no perfunctory “drive-by” ritual. Rebekah made a big deal of talking about the statements of faith they had shared with the elders, their deep theological understanding, and their passion for the gospel. These are good kids, motivated to serve and to move forward into lives as disciples of Jesus.
Rebekah may “sprinkle,” but when she’s through the person being baptized is not much drier than if they’d been dunked! Doesn’t matter if it’s a baby, an adult, or an adolescent, Rebekah somehow manages what seems like a gallon or so of water cupped in her hands and all over the head (shoulders, neck, lap, back) of the individual in question.
“I don’t know why people always laugh,” she said. “I just want them to know they’ve been baptized – not passed over with a vague hint of a spray.”
JOY: But it’s more joy than funny that’s putting the big smiles on people’s faces and spilling over into mirth. It’s always a Holy Spirit moment when someone is baptized; but Sunday I could sense it with even more power, the power that just makes us smile, even the most curmudgeonly. God is a God of joy and it was all over the place in the two baptisms.
Worship is all about celebration. It’s about celebrating the fact that God loves us, that we are invited into a restored relationship through Jesus, and that we can live a life that is qualitatively different because of all those “R” words: repentance, redemption, restoration, renovation, reclamation, rejuvenation, reaffirmation, release, reformation….
FOUNDATION: There is a foundational value at the heart of all we do here at First Presbyterian Church of Brandon, and that is “Everything we do comes out of worship.” In other words, worship is at the heart of our life together as a faith community.
This year’s “Youth Sunday” made it obvious that our young people not only understand the importance of worship, and of an active relationship with the Living God, they embrace it.
Praise God from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.
Derek has published seven books in the past decade (you can find them at https://www.amazon.com/Derek-Maul/e/B001JS9WC4), and there’s always something new in the works.
Before becoming a full-time writer, Derek taught public school in Florida for eighteen years, including cutting-edge work with autistic children. He holds bachelor’s degrees in psychology and education from Stetson University and the University of West Florida.
Derek is active in teaching at his church: adult Sunday school, and a men’s Bible study/spiritual formation group. He enjoys the outdoors, traveling, photography, reading, cooking, playing guitar, and golf.