Luke tell us in chapter two of his Gospel that Mary and Joseph journeyed every year with other pilgrims to the Temple in Jerusalem; it took them several days each way. How this fragment of the early life of Jesus survived to be reported by Luke is a mystery, as are so many ancient events. On the visit when he was 12 years old, Jesus stayed behind without his parents’ knowledge, debating with the scholars in the Temple.
Leanna Archer was just 9 years old when she began bottling and selling her own hair products to friends and family. When she became the CEO of her company at age 17 she started the Leanna Archer Education Foundation to help build schools and safe learning environments for underprivileged children in Haiti.
Yahoo bought Nick D’Aloisio’s technology company off him when he was 17 years old for $30 million. Neha Gupta, in Nepal, began to raise money for school books and other educational expenses for orphans when she was just ten; she created her own charity and now, at 17, has raised more than $1 million for “Empower Orphans”.
We sometimes bewail the loss of teenagers from our churches and we wonder why. Is it because we treat them like children and expect them to lap up stories about Daniel and Noah? Is it because we forget that they are real people in the middle of sexual awakening and with deep questions about what is the point of it all?
Jesus (the story tells us) was surprised that his parents would not have known that he must take the opportunity to question the elders after a year meditating over chair-making, or whatever Joseph’s business was, with no one to spar against. So it must be with our children who live in a world largely hidden from us. We house their bodies but not their souls, which dwell in the house of tomorrow, a place we cannot visit, even in our dreams, as Kahlil Gibran so poetically tell us.
These are the people who will decide what to do with our churches, how to run our country, how to repair the biosphere we have damaged; and they are starting to have their ideas now. What do they need? Responsibility? Someone to listen seriously? Opportunities?
Jesus took a little child (Mark 9:36) and put his arms around him. He said to his disciples, “Whoever receives one child like this in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me does not receive Me, but Him who sent Me. Time for some serious reappraisal.