By Rev. Joe Walker, Minister of Congregational Care

When did I become “old”? That’s not a punchline, it’s a serious question.

Last weekend our congregation helped host Culver-Stockton College students on their “Know Thy Selfie” retreat. As a church we arranged for a service opportunity at Grace United Community Ministries, one of our Northeast neighborhood partners. The retreat was funded, in part, by a grant from our Endowment Committee. Culver-Stockton is one of our historic Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) schools. You may have seen the students here in our 11:00 a.m. Sunday service.

I had lunch with the students on Saturday. I was impressed beyond words with their heart for people and the depth of their spiritual reflection. They shared stories from their lives and insights from studies. The students talked about serving “outside their comfort zone” and what they learned from that about others, systemic poverty, themselves and, most importantly, what God is doing in all of our lives. They identified God-given gifts that they will bring to their vocations: medicine, mental health, science, business, the arts, and communications.

Jeff Algie, our Grace United champion, was also impressed. “They were so engaging,” Jeff said, “about their school, how it is growing, what they are into there, singing to the music they played, and really interested in the ministries and programs of Grace United. There is one thing about them that made me a little uneasy – they kept saying ‘Sir’ – that kept me looking around to see who they were talking to.”

Of course, neither Jeff nor I were really surprised by their youth, but we both took note of their age. Even their Chaplain, Rev. Amanda Sorenson, had celebrated her ordination only two weeks earlier.

Which brings me back to my observation: As I have gotten “older” I have become ever more appreciative of gifted young people. They give me great hope for the future. That is not to say that I/we are done and can coast but simply that I have a new perspective on Isaiah’s prophecy: “I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”

If they are to help heal our people and our planet, our emerging generations will have to “dream of things that never were and ask ‘why not?.”

I pray for our young people and welcome opportunities to empower, equip, and encourage them.