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Children, Youth, and a New Kind of Christianity

The conference last week in Washington, DC, was long-anticipated and exceeded all my expectations. What an amazing assemblage of people who care about kids!

The conference ended with host Amy Butler, pastor of Columbia Baptist, reading this beautiful prayer by Ina Hughes:

We pray for young people
Who put chocolate fingers everywhere,
Who like to be tickled,
Who stomp in puddles and ruin their new pants,
Who ask for $20 before they leave with their friends,
Who erase holes in math workbooks,
Who never put away their shoes.

And we pray for those
Who stare at photographers from behind barbed wire,
Who can’t bound down the street in new sneakers,
Who never “counted potatoes,”
Who aren’t anybody’s Facebook friend,
Who are born in places we wouldn’t be caught dead in,
Who never go to the circus or to a concert,
Who live in an X-rated world.

We pray for young people
Who bring us sticky kisses and fistfuls of dandelions,
Who sleep with the cat and bury goldfish,
Who hug us in a hurry and forget their lunch money,
Who leave make-up all over the sink,
Who slurp their soup.

And we pray for those
Who never get dessert,
Who never had a safe blanket to drag behind them,
Who can’t find any bread to steal,
Who don’t have any rooms or lockers to clean up,
Whose pictures aren’t on anybody’s iphones,
Whose monsters are real.

We pray for young people
Who spend all their paychecks before Tuesday,
Who throw tantrums in the grocery store and pick at their food,
Who like ghost stories,
Who stay out past curfew while their parents wait for them,
Who get visits from the tooth fairy,
Who think they’re far too old to be hugged good-bye,
Who squirm in church and scream on the phone,
Whose tears we sometimes laugh at and whose smiles can make us cry.

And we pray for those
Whose nightmares come in the daytime,
Who will eat anything,
Who have never seen a dentist,
Who are never spoiled by anyone,
Who don’t have a loved one to come out to,
Who go to bed hungry and cry themselves to sleep,
Who live and move, but have no being.

We pray for young people
Who want to be carried
And for those who must,
For those we never give up on
And for those who never get a second chance,
For those we smother,
And for those who will grab the hand of anybody kind
enough to offer it.

We pray for children.

Amen.

Somehow that prayer brought the whole gathering together. A lot of us were wiping tears from our eyes. When we turn our hearts towards the young, we sense that we are resonating with the heart of God. I'll let you know when I hear about how materials from the gathering will be made available. Thanks to all 400+ who came!