Go Deep!

Everyone knows I am a big movie fan.  This summer has been a pretty good year, with fun movies like Toy Story 3 and Iron Man 2.  But by far the best movie of the summer, and the year, is InceptionInception is one of those movies that force you to think and discuss afterward.  You can't forget it.  I have had many conversations over the last month with people who both loved and hated it-- that's the whole point.

If you allow yourself to go deep (one of themes of the movie), you will not be able to dismiss it easily.  I saw Inception the first time with Christy in a crowded, warm theatre in a lousy seat.  A fellow movie going friend emailed me to say he didn't like it but I would probably love it.  Honestly, leaving the cinema the first time I appreciated it but I wasn't in awe of it.  The second time I saw it was different.  Every moment of the film was a new discovery, a connecting of the dots, a new mystery.  I had a great seat, the auditorium was comfortable, everything was perfect.  For me.  Not for my Dad, who accompanied me on my recommendation.  After about 10 minutes he was done.  He would not allow himself to go deep, so Inception made no sense to him.  He was lost and frustrated.  He's not the only one with that reaction!  Everyone who sees this film has a reaction.

The idea of "go deep" applies well to this weekend at church, which is sort of PUMC youth weekend.  Tonight the youth will gather for their annual back-to-school lockin, and Sunday they will lead us in worship: music, prayers, children's time, announcements... just about everything.  They'll be sharing their experiences from a very busy summer, from Bridgeport to Mystery Trip to mission trips to all the things inbetween!  So how does "go deep" relate here?  Well, how often do we fail to appreciate the value of young people-- or the youth experience in general?  I mean, everyone says youth are important-- "They're the future" is a favorite cliche, to which I always respond: "No, they're the present just like you and I are."  Everyone loves 1 Corinthians 13, right?  "Love is patient, love is kind..." you've heard it at just about every wedding.  Part of that text is Paul's beautiful line about spiritual maturity: "When I was a child I thought like a child, I spoke like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult I put an end to my childish ways" (verse 11).  What's missing?  Youth!  Didn't this guy ever go to MYF?  Do we need to host a John Hughes film fest in heaven for him to realize youth is an important stage in life too?  A double feature of Sixteen Candles and The Breakfast Club would do it.

We've worked very hard over the years to name and maintain youth as a high priority at PUMC.  We're great with children and good with adults, but sometimes youth get squeezed out.  We have all the tools in place now to build a long-term, quality youth program.  Daniel has been with us nearly two years now, and he has done an outstanding job of providing leadership while at the same time allowing the youth to determine the direction of the program themselves-- great leaders get out of the way and release their people.  We've given the Basement a wonderful facelift.  And we have some outstanding youth in this church.  I am so proud when I see the young students we have been raised in the faith here.  From Confirmation through High School, our church is doing its part to lay the groundwork for disciples of Christ.  I know you share my pride in Daniel and our youth.  And an excellent opportunity to express that appreciation is offered Sunday morning: come to church.  Worship God.  Listen to faith stories.  Share in the lives God is shaping within our church.  Go deep.

Inception is all about mysteries and puzzles, and the ending of the movie is another one-- we're left to create the ending on our own.  So it is with our young people.  We don't know yet what college they'll go to, what career path they'll take.  All we can know for sure is who they are today.  And we can do our part to ensure that these very important years are not swept under the rug and forgotten.  Thank you for your regular support of the church's ministries.  Your giving is helping to change lives.

I teased Paul earlier about skipping the youth years, but he makes up for it in 1 Timothy.  Paul writes to Timothy, himself just beginning his journey as a disciple: "Let know one despise your youth, but set the believers an example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity" (1 Timothy 4:12).  Stop a youth or Daniel or an adult volunteer and thank them this Sunday.  Share your pride in them.  Think about these young people walking through the schools a week from Monday as ambassadors for Prosper United Methodist Church.  And be thankful.  Go deep!