There is a now-cliche saying in youth ministry that young people are not the future of the Church, they are the Church now. Because it is such a cliche, I even hesitate to say it here, except that it is very true. Along side the altar society ladies and the Knights of Columbus, young people have an important place in the Church as baptized members of the Body of Christ.
I was reminded of this as I reflected on my recent viewing of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince while on vacation. Harry, Ron, Hermione and the gang are at it again, as the J. K. Rowling's tale takes its darker turns. As the growing threat of Voldemort's evil plans begins to rear its ugly head, one might be tempted to ask, "Why on earth aren't the older, experienced witches and wizards doing more to fend off these Death Eaters? Why does it have to fall to the young ones to do battle with the Dark Lord?"
This is much like the complacent attitude that many in the Church have toward youth presence among us. They should be there, in the pew (very quiet, please) and not do anything else (apart from maybe helping Father as an altar server). However, this would ignore their dignity as Christians. Yes, they have things to learn - a lot to learn sometimes. But, they also have a lot to offer. Harry and friends are in the thick of things because they have something special - unique - to share in that struggle.
Today, I head off to Sparks, MD, to assist at our annual High School Leadership Institute, High LI. Sixty young people from around the diocese are coming on Sunday to grow in their leadership skills and share themselves with us and one another. They will return home, to their parishes and schools, as leaders - joining the adults as co-ministers to their fellow Christians in their particular places. Please keep us in your prayers this week.