I gave a terrible youth talk on Sunday night. It really was rubbish. There were a number of contributing factors but ultimately it was my fault. What came out of my mouth was a series of random thoughts and questions that had no through line and no clear point.
My heart sank as I watched the young people check their phones, talk to each other and stare blankly into space, whilst I rambled on.
Why share this you may ask. Hell, I’m thinking it as I write this but i’ll keep going and see what happens.
The topic was the 2nd beatitude, “blessed are those who mourn” and the speaker pulled out on Friday because he was having teeth extracted. That’s not an excuse, that’s just the circumstances surrounding the talk.
I tried to share the point that we live in a culture of denial. We ignore the homeless on the street, the bullied kids in our schools, the suffering and oppression that goes on in the world. We choose to deny that it exists cause it will make us feel bad. It may even make us‘mourn’. But that’s what Jesus calls us to do. Those that choose to connect with others, who grieve for others. Who stand up and say, “this isn’t right! This isn’t fair!”. They are blessed.
But I didn’t have those thoughts together in a way that would engage anyone. So it failed.
Yesterday I text the young people to apologise because the talk wasn’t good and I hadn’t done the beatitude justice. was that the right thing to do? I still don’t know.
But I didn’t want to deny it. I didn’t want to brush it under the carpet. Cause those young people deserve better than that. And Jesus words deserve better than that.
I started reading lamentations this morning. Jerusalem is destroyed. People have been exiled to Babylon and other surrounding areas. The temple is in ruins. Rather than deny it, the narrator and the city cry out. They get angry. They grieve. They mourn.
I listened to Eminem’s new Album, “recovery” a few weeks ago. I got a few songs in before my wife asked me to turn it off. I’m surprised it got that far. The first song, ‘cold winds blow’ is the most foul mouthed rant I have ever heard put to music. He’s angry. He wants people to know it. He doesn’t deny it.
the beatitudes, lamentations, my failed talk and enimem.
It’s all linked.
In a culture where we deny and ignore anything that upsets us, God tells us to the opposite. He tells us to embrace it. To mourn, to grieve, to stand with those who need help. To get emotional.
We are called to throw down the stiff upper lip, the pursuit of (our own) happiness and the masks of respectability.
Blessed are those who mourn!