Northwest Yearly Meeting recently had 2013 Midyear Boards. One panel discussion focused on the traditional church from the perspective of the Young Adult Friend (a Young Adult Friends—or YAF—may be defined as a Friend between the ages of 18–35, or anyone who identifies as such). As I continue to contemplate the discussion that took place on the YAF panel, I have to consider the challenges of being a “young adult” in this world in general, not just in the church. Along these lines, I am reminded of Luke 4:24, when Jesus said that no prophet is accepted in his hometown.
Allow me to clarify: I am not calling myself a prophet (I may someday play one on stage, but that’s besides the point…), nor have I been faced with much doubt from my hometown or home meeting. I’m just saying that I sort of identify with Jesus’ statement, because if I encounter raised eyebrows when I describe myself as a “vocalist” or “opera singer,” I can’t imagine the response Jesus must have gotten when he listed his occupation as “savior of the human race.” I imagine the following conversation taking place just outside the synagogue in his hometown:
Local Nazareth Elder: Well, hello there, Jesus! Great to see you all grown up. How are things? You’re into carpentry these days, right?
Jesus: Ya know, God actually called me to own nothing and travel around sharing the news of his love with all those I encounter. Turns out I’m the Messiah. Who’da thunk, right?
Local Nazareth Elder: [pause] Well…isn’t that…interesting.
Jesus: Yeah, it tends to be. Lots of healing, casting out of demons, that sort of thing. Speaking of, can I help you with anything? Pray for you? Heal you of any ailments or remove the burden of your sin?
Local Nazareth Elder: Um, gee, thanks, but no. I’ve got this whole sacrifice ritual I’ve been practicing since before you were born. If its worked for this long, it’s obviously the way things are supposed to be, so I think I’m set.
Jesus: You sure? I have gifts to offer you…blessings directly from God that He told me to share with all the world and I’d love to give them to you.
Local Nazareth Elder: No, no, you go on and have fun with the whole prophet thing. And would you look at the time, I’ve got to get going. See you around, Jesus!
Which made me realize: Jesus was a young adult! He’d gone out, seen the world, and when he finally started to figure out how God was calling him to fit into (or not fit into) society, he returned to his hometown to give them a full report. And how did they respond? They didn’t buy it! In their eyes, he wasn’t a prophet, he was Joseph’s son, the kid who was supposed to be making tents and tables but was too busy spouting off quotes from old religious books. These people had so little faith in Jesus, most of them missed out on his miracles. It was only where he was new and unknown that people were hungry for and open to his gift of salvation.
Not all of us are called to be the hand of God as the savior of the Earth, but we all have our role, which we’re seeking to know better every day. This seeking is hard work, but it’s something that can be easily overlooked by others. When we overlook the discernment and wisdom of those around us, judging them instead by their age, race, social standing, letters after their name, Quaker lineage, or familiarity, we cut our brothers and sisters out of their rightful place in the Church, which is meant to be the unifying body of faith in Christ’s love. Let us instead be unifiers. Where I sense an error in a brother or sister’s discernment process, may I come beside them in prayer and with clear, loving communication so that we may grow together. Where there is a child with new, big ideas that seem a little “out there,” may I be wise enough to listen with my whole heart!
Contributed by Catherine Olson, Reedwood Friends