From Pastor David McMillan
But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? ….As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
— Romans 10:14,15
Pastor Dave McMillan
My niece recently published her first book, Shoot Down the Wendy Bird
. These words were spoken by Tinker Bell who was afraid Wendy would win the affections of her Peter Pan.
My niece writes “I’ve forever been drawn to the feisty fairy that goes after what she wants despite all obstacles. No little girl was going to come in and take her love away, or ruin the good thing she had going in Neverland. Nope, she’d secure her happy ending, no matter what.”
That’s how Shoot Down the Wendy Bird was born. It’s about the fire that makes you unstoppable on the journey to what you want. It’s permeated with the drive to seize opportunities and situations, and to empower yourself to take an active role in your destiny. It’s what these short stories and poems all share, even if they are all so very different. At the core of the book is the passion “to live a better, happier, and more magical life.”
Please know that I love my niece very much and that her book is very well written, but the funny things is, I struggled to find within it the means “to live a better, happier and more magical life.” Instead, what I was left with was the feeling of the absence of a presence who is able to make all things new again, a presence I call God.
I believe my niece, now in her early 30’s, is representative of a growing number of young people who are searching for a narrative in which to find meaning, belonging, and hope. They are also a part of the growing number of so-called Nones and Dones, mostly 20 and 30-somethings, making up almost 20% of our population, who are leaving organized religion because they no longer believe in religious teachings, or, in some cases, in God. There are a number of reasons why some people are finding religion irrelevant to their lives, but all point to a deepening secularization of our country. Unlike some, I do not believe that our growing secularization as a nation is because of the absence of a dedicated time for prayer in schools or because stone replicas of the Ten Commandments have been taken out of the lobbies of our courthouses. I believe it is something more fundamental than this.
What I see in Christian homes is the growing absence of a presence, the recognition, writes author Calvin Chin, “that there is something larger than a human being, accompanied by capacities for awe, respect and shame.” When the absence of this presence exists, writes theologian Harvey Cox, “Christmas becomes a family reunion; Easter a spring style show; and Thanksgiving a time when there is no one to thank.”
I am guilty on this account, of becoming restless when praying over the Christmas turkey or Easter ham goes on at length to recount all God’s faithful acts or to remind us of our covenant responsibilities. But I’ve begun to recognize the need for authentically, lovingly speaking the language of faith in our homes, to remind ourselves of our biblical narrative and to intentionally acknowledge and yield to the One, “in whom we live and move and have our being.”
I believe the onus for the loss of faith in our homes rests primarily upon parents and grandparents. Possibly in fear of alienating our children and grandchildren or looking hypocritical, we’ve abdicated our roles as spiritual leaders and the vows we made to our children at their baptism… to lead them to faith in Christ “by our teaching and example.” I believe many of us have erred for too long in thinking that our “example” is enough. Our shortcoming has been in our failure “to tell the old, old story of Jesus and his love.”
Among many of the so-called Nones and Dones today, there remains a search for a master story in which to find meaning and belonging, in which they can inherit the “passion to live a better, happier, and more magical life.” Many turn to the stories of Hollywood, celebrities, fantasy, vampire trilogies, or young adult fiction of unrequited loves.
All the while we, their elders, who have been entrusted with the good news of a God with us, a God of unconditional love, have chosen to keep this gospel to ourselves. In the words of the Apostle Paul “How are they to call on one whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him?… As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’”