by Rachael Stelzer
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‘But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light’ (1 Peter 2:9).
I went with my boys to the skate park on the weekend. I expected chaos, but I learned some lessons instead.
I watched kids giving each other a nod that said, ‘Your turn’, and waiting. They gauged the terrain and took a line to zip down and up a slope or a quarter pipe, watching for where others stood. My 11-year-old made friends with a 5-year-old and encouraged him in a new skill he was trying. At one stage, a kid complained to his dad, ‘I got snaked!’ I learnt that this meant someone had broken the unspoken rules of skate park etiquette and dropped in on him without checking carefully first.
I watched the 15- and 20-year-olds, and the stares of wonder from the younger kids as they defied gravity on their BMX bikes. I talked to a dad whose 9-year-old son is diagnosed with ADHD and medicated, but here in the skate park, he is a semi-pro with a YouTube channel and some sponsorship from local businesses. ‘This is the only thing that centres him’, said his dad.
It got me thinking. I hope our churches are like skate parks.
I hope we are in the business of encouraging people to try new skills, gifts and talents. I hope we are set up in such a way that people are kept safe. I hope we are building community, not just in institutional ways, but through genuine relationships and friendships. I hope we have respectful ways of working with those who cause injury to others or risk doing so. I hope we have ways of bringing our young people into contact with their wise elders, to be able to learn and wonder at their faith and their wisdom. And I hope that for those who deal with labels in their everyday world, we can offer freedom from these labels and recognise the soul within.
Heavenly Father, as we start returning to our worshipping communities, we pray for opportunities to encourage and inspire each other once again. May our church communities welcome and build everyone up, from the young to the old. And may we hold Jesus high, as the one who defied death, and will drop in on us again soon. In Jesus’ name, Amen.