I am looking over this week's lectionary readings in advance of my first sermon in my new position as Interim/ Sabbatical time chaplain at the university. The theme that speaks to me, that seems to running through all these readings, has to do with youth and call.
Now the word of the Lord came to me saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy.” But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a boy’; for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and you shall speak whatever I command you, Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord.”
~ Jeremiah 1:4-8
For you, O Lord, are my hope,
my trust, O Lord, from my youth.
Upon you I have leaned from my birth;
it was you who took me from my mother’s womb.
My praise is continually of you.
~ Psalm 71:5-6
When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.
~ 1 Corinthians 13:11-12
All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?”
~ Luke 4:22
In each reading there is some reference to God's relationship with the speaker from their youth, or the changes that have come over them since youth, or the anxiety they have about their youth, or the anxiety others seem to have, remembering their youthful origins.
There has been much posting around the web this week about Dave Carter and Tracey Grammer; Ms. Grammer is coming to my town this weekend for a concert, for which I cannot wait. Several years ago I heard this song and connected it, in my own mind, to the stories of scripture in which the youth of a person is recognized, and not always in a positive way. Free associating for just a moment, one point in considering this is the fact that our culture is so youth-oriented; the supermodels who are supposed to inspire us in terms of looks and wardrobe selection are, many of them, no older than 16 or 17. At the writing of these scripture texts, however, such youth was not to be aspired to: the wisdom that supposedly comes with age was not just tolerated, it was venerated. I read a quote somewhere this week: When an old person dies, libraries are lost.
Common cool, he was a proud young fool in a kick-ass Walmart tie
Rippin down the main drag, trippin on the headlights rollin by
In the early dawn when the cars were gone, did he hear the master's call?
In the five-and-dime did he wake and find he was only dreamin after all, 'cause
This is an ordinary town and the prophet stands apart
This is an ordinary town and we brook no wayward heart
And every highway leads you prodigal back home
To the ordinary sidewalks you were born to roam
Rock of ages, love contagious, shine the serpent fire
So sang the sage of sixteen summers in the upstairs choir
So sang the old dog down the street beside his wailing wall
"Go home, go home" the mayor cried when jesus came to city hall, 'cause
This is an ordinary town, and the prophet stands alone
This is an ordinary town and we crucify our own
And every highway leads you prodigal again
To the ordinary houses you were brought up in
Raised on hunches and junk food lunches and punch-drunk ballroom steps
You get to believing you're even-steven with the kids at fast track prep
So you dump your bucks on a velvet tux and you run to join the dance
But your holy shows and the romans know you're just a child of
This is an ordinary town and the prophet has no face
This is an ordinary town and the seasons run in place
And every highway leads you prodigal and true
To the ordinary angels watchin over you