There are so many hopes and fears of teenagers who are entering into a new school year. The hopes of an anticipated class with a favorite teacher who makes learning engaging and enjoyable; the excitement of a new soccer, lacrosse, or marching band season where they can use their bodies to do some amazing things; the eagerness to see friends all together in one place and make deeper connections with peers. And alongside that may linger fears of poisonous drama that erodes relationships; the hard class that will drain more energy than it will give; the extracurricular schedule that makes parents and teenagers feel like energizer bunnies – without the long lasting battery life.
Walk with our youth, Immanuel, as they discern between the many voices coming at them. As parents and teens enter into the rhythm of a new year, may your voice be the strong and steady bass note playing the the pocket, resounding “You are my beloved.” Help us pastors, teachers, ministers, parents, mentors to echo that voice to them in all we do. Lord there is so much potential in the knowledge that is to be gained this year, the skills that are to be tuned and the connections to be made. May our prayer echo Paul, that each teenager’s love “might become even more and more rich with knowledge and all kinds of insight.” In all that is gained this year, we pray it would all find it’s direction in the self-giving love of Jesus. A love that breaks barriers, welcomes strangers, and seeks to cultivate beauty, truth, and justice in the world.
*I also love the prayer of Frederick Buechner for young people. It sits prominently in my office above my desk as a reminder for myself. It’s a great prayer, especially for the beginning of a new school year…
“Be present especially with the young who must choose between many voices. Help them to know how much an old world needs their youth and gladness. Help them to know that there are words of truth and healing that will never be spoken unless they speak them, and deeds of compassion and courage that will never be done unless they do them. Help them never to mistake success for victory or failure for defeat. Grant that they may never be entirely content with whatever bounty the world may bestow upon them, but that they know at last that they were created not for happiness but for joy, and that joy is to him/her alone who, sometimes with tears in their eyes, commits themselves in love to thee and their brothers and sisters. Lead them and all thy world ever deeper into the knowledge that finally all people are one and that there can never really be joy for any until there is joy for all. In Christ’s name we ask it and for his sake. Amen.” -Frederick Buechner