“Kids These Days”
4"Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD; 5and you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. 6And these words which I command you this day shall be upon your heart; 7and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8And you shall bind them as a sign upon your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
(Deuteronomy 6:4-9, NRSV)
Kids these days! Am I right? I will admit that I sense my elevating age more regularly as I shake my head and think about this notion. I never thought I would be one of those adults, but alas; I have arrived. The anecdotes that begin with, you know when I was a kid… This opening line is more prevalent these days. My efforts to impart wisdom often are followed by the notorious pre-teen rolling eyes.
One lazy July day this summer, I lovingly force my children outside for an afternoon of play and adventure. After half of an hour of mostly complaining instead of playing they beg me for re-entry into the air-conditioning. I glance at their miserable faces and proclaim, “You know, when I was a kid in the summer, my parents would not allow us back in the house until the street lights came on, signaling dinner time. Find something to do for at least an hour and then perhaps we’ll negotiate possible indoor time!” Kids these days.
One rainy Saturday afternoon, I walk into the middle of an ensuing argument regarding which cartoon to watch on the shared living room TV. Grabbing the remote from the dueling duo, I proclaim, “You know when I was a kid, cartoons were only on TV for a few hours on Saturday morning. When the last cartoon ended, so did our TV time for the day! Find something else to do.” Kids these days.
One Tuesday afternoon, I sit with the kids in the midst of homework misery. Aaron, who is in fifth grade, asks me a geography question that is beyond my knowledge. Without moving from his spot, he picks up my phone, presses a button and states aloud, “Siri, where is the Cumberland River?” As Siri responds, he jots down the answer, satisfied with his savvy research self. I roll my eyes and proclaim aloud, “You know when I was a kid doing research, I had to get up from the table, go into my bedroom, and select the appropriate Encyclopedia Britannica. I then had to find the right page and read for a solid five minutes to find the information I needed. You’re so spoiled.” Kids these days.
One Sunday morning at the conclusion of youth Sunday school, several of our teens pull out their phones and begin texting their friends about afternoon plans. I stand up and proclaim, “You know when I was a kid and I wanted to make plans with my friend, I had to call her house – go through a five minute conversation with her mother and sometimes older sister before she was even handed the phone. And once we were connected, the phone was attached to our kitchen wall by a six foot cord, making it entirely impossible for any semblance of privacy. Setting up afternoon plans with a friend when I was a kid took a great deal of effort! That’s all I’m saying.” Our youth glance up at me in my moment judgment and then back down at their phones. Kids these days.
In our scripture lesson this morning, we remember God’s message through Moses to impart to our children the most important things in life. These six verses in Deuteronomy are significant for Christians as well as for our Jewish friends. In the Jewish custom these verses are referred to as the Shema. Many Jewish families have these verses inscribed on a small piece of paper and tucked into a tube which hangs above their doorposts, both inside and outside of the home. Seeing the physical reminder, they remember the importance of God’s message to us. 4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord is one.[a] 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. 6 Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. 7 Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. 8 Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem[b] on your forehead, 9 and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” Deuteronomy 6:4-9 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
The messages of life and faith we hand down to our children are invaluable. In this light, The United Church of Christ launched a new campaign recently entitled Three Great Loves: Love of Neighbor, Love of Children and Love of Creation. Likewise, we as a church community strive to lift up, inspire and guide our children into the ways of our loving God. For the messages we impart to the next generation as parents and as faith communities will become their inner guide as they navigate a rapidly changing world. It is a fact that kids these days experience the world differently than I did and perhaps as you did as well. But the truth is that kids these days are the ones giving me hope for our future.
Kids these days like 15-year-old Malala Yousafzai give me hope. Malala survives a gunshot wound when the Taliban targets her because she is a well-known advocate for girls’ education in Pakistan. Malala not only survives the gunshot wound but she also changes the world by becoming the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize at the age of 17. Today, Malala is the face of activism for advancing the education of girls globally.
Kids these days like Ryan Hickman give me hope. At 3 years old, Ryan takes his first haul of cans and bottles to a local recycling plant in California. Inspired by how recycling keeps waste from the ocean, Ryan starts his own one-man company by collecting bottles and cans from his neighbors. In 2016, Ellen DeGeneres matches the money he’d already earned, giving the eco-entrepreneur enough money to pay for college when he was 7 years old. Today, Ryan’s not for profit, “Ryan’s Recycling Company” helps turn waste into reusable items.
Kids these days like Sophie Cruz give me hope. With only a hand-drawn note, 5-year-old Sophie changes the world in 2015 when she runs out to the visiting Pope Francis' motorcade in Washington, D.C. The Pope literally stops in his tracks. The tiny messenger is born in America but lives in fear that her undocumented immigrant parents will be deported. Because of Sophie’s note, the pope speaks to Congress the next day about fairer immigration policies. In 2017, Sophie continues her path of leadership by being the youngest featured speaker at the Women's March on Washington.
Kids these days like Robby Novak give me hope. As one major media outlet states, “Go on, try not to smile while watching Robby Novak (better known as Kid President) deliver inspiring pep talks on his YouTube channel. It would be hard to tell from his constant upbeat and cheery personality, for Robby has loads of charisma, but Robby suffers from brittle bones disease, and has had more than 70 breaks so far. Despite it all, he dreams to unite the world through kindness and laugher, MLK-style.”
Kids these days like Yash Gupta give me hope. When his glasses break during his freshman year of high school, Yash’s life changes. Having worn glasses since he was a toddler, he doesn’t appreciate them until he realizes that his education is affected due to his blurred vision. Being able to afford the fix, his glasses are repaired in only a week. However, the experience inspires him to found the organization Sight Learning, a charity that collects discarded eyeglasses and donates them to children in need around the world.
Kids these days like Zuriel Oduwole give me hope. Zuriel is a self-taught child filmmaker and is a powerful voice for the education of young girls in Africa. By the age of 12, she'd already made four documentaries, interviewed 14 heads of state and became the youngest person to ever be profiled by Forbes. Her most well-known film, "A Promising Africa," was screened in more than five countries. Zuriel continues to tour the world and educate others about the importance of global literacy.
Kids these days like Nicholas Lowinger give me hope. In 2010 Nicholas started a foundation called “Gotta Have Sole”. As a pre-teen, he was first inspired by a homeless girl and boy who had to take turns going to school every other day because they had one pair of shoes to share. Nicholas gave the boy a new pair of basketball sneakers. Since then, he has donated more than 76,000 pairs of shoes to homeless youth across America.
Kids these days like Teagan Stedman give me hope. When a close friend was diagnosed with cancer, 8-year-old Teagan Stedman began the Shred Kids' Cancer organization to help kids support their peers while they go through cancer treatments. As he goes through the journey with close friends, he understands how children's bodies are affected by chemotherapy. Teagan begins to study biology and nanotechnology. He eventually invents a new and improved way to treat tumors and wins the 2017 Youth Award presented by World of Children.
Kids these days like 16-year-old Greta Thunberg give me hope. Teenage climate activist Greta arrives in New York City this past August after sailing across the Atlantic Ocean to call attention to the need for quick action to save our planet. Thunberg, the 16-year-old from Sweden, embarks in the racing sailboat Malizia II from Plymouth in the United Kingdom for two weeks on the trip to the U.S. to attend the United Nations Climate Action Summit. Thunberg is greeted by a crowd of supporters, including a group of fellow high school students carrying homemade signs. Students break into chants as the sailboat slowly pulls into the marina in Lower Manhattan, shouting “Sea levels are rising and so are we!” and “There is no Planet B!” It seems as if Thunberg’s work and legacy in our world is just beginning.
The messages we give to our children matter. The ways in which we help our children to see and understand our world matters. The way we speak about people who are different than us, matters. The way we set examples for our children both in speech and in action, matters. The way in which we teach our children to treat the earth, matters. The experience of childhood will change throughout the decades and generations to come. But God’s message to us is eternal and timeless. Love the Lord your God with all of your heart and all of your soul and all of your strength. And love your neighbor as you love yourself.” This is the message that matters. As each generation tackles its own unique issues, this is still the underlying truth. When we teach our children to love God and love their neighbor, we will witness strides for peace in this world. We will see new innovations arise that improve the lives of others. We will witness more equality. We will see glimpses of a more just world. With each new generation, we are given a new lens of hope – a new beginning for God’s ways of love. Kids these days. Thanks be to God! Amen.
We recognize that our world is a broken place, hurt by poverty, famine and disease. We admit that sometimes we make the world a broken place, tolerating prejudice, conflict and self-interest.
Renew us in Your love, O God, and heal us with the comfort of Your abundant love. Awaken us to the role we can play in healing Your creation. Strengthen us through the power of the Holy Spirit to hear Your word and move forward in faith.
We pray for the condition of our world this morning. We pray that where there is violence, we would find a peaceful solution. We pray that where there is hunger and thirst, we would find resources to quench and to satisfy. We pray for those separated from family and loved one’s this day. We pray for those who live in fear on a daily basis, might they sense your ever encompassing peace.
We pray for our church family.
We seek to be faithful as we live out our lives. Draw us closer to you. In the name of Christ we pray, Amen.
~ submitted by Gill Le Fevre on www.re-worship.blogspot.com.