The Third Week of Advent, December 14th 2011
In the Magnificat, the Song of Mary from Luke’s Gospel, Mary, an unmarried teenager, operating with no safety net under her, is faced with the astounding news that she will bear a child who will be called the Son of the Most High. The angel Gabriel has told her that the child will be given the throne to reign over the house of Jacob forever. Mary has a moral choice to make. She is betrothed, engaged, to Joseph, and is a virgin. Yet, Gabriel has announced that she will conceive and bear a son.
Mary could have decided differently. She could have refused Gabriel’s offer, or at least I think she could have. She could have protested. She could have denied her role as the God-bearer, the theotokos. But she did not. Mary accepted the possibility presented to her. She made the good choice. “Here am I,” she said. “Let it be with me according to thy word.”
In my role as a priest and chaplain at St. Dunstan’s, I come into contact with lots of students who are facing difficult choices in their lives. They are trying to make good choices about their vocations, their relationships, their money and other resources. They struggle with uncertainty and self-doubt. They want very much to make good choices for themselves and for their future–and they are rightly concerned with the effects that their decisions will have on other
I’ve said for at least the past seven years that this current generation of young people is a most impressive one. They have shown character and determination and a personal sense of responsibility for themselves and for others that I have not seen for quite a while. They desire to be faithful. They seek to do good to others. They want to make a difference. They are hungry and thirsty for righteousness. Not since the Greatest Generation were their age, in the years of the Great Depression and the Second World War, have we seen their like. Time magazine recently called this present age of young people “The New Greatest Generation,” a reference to Tom Brokaw’s bestseller, The Greatest Generation.
I have the honor and great pleasure, in the next couple of weeks, to celebrate the marriage of two couples who belong to this new generation of leaders. Victoria and Nerren will be married at Grace Church in Cullman this Saturday. Victoria is a graduate of Auburn’s School of Veterinary Medicine. Nerren is an Ole Miss graduate in Finance. The Wednesday after Christmas, Kyte and Kate will be married at St Anne’s in Annapolis, Maryland. Kyte was also one of our active student members, graduated Auburn, received his commission as a Navy lieutenant, served on board ship and in Afghanistan with a NATO special force, and now teaches at the U.S. Naval Academy. Kate is a fifth grade teacher at an inner city school. They are all remarkable young people. They are all heroes of a new Greatest Generation.
I believe they deserve the title. And they give me a great deal of hope for the future. I am hopeful that our society, our country, our world will be a better place for their having lived in it. I am hopeful that they will make good choices, and one of the primary reasons I believe they will is because they are discovering the lessons of Holy Scripture. They are honestly searching for answers.
And they are finding that the Bible is not some dusty old book full of fairy tales and dull characters; rather, they are discovering that the Bible truly is the Most Important of Books, and that it is filled with wisdom and honesty and
valuable lessons about real life, their life. I am equally convinced that you don’t have to be a college student to find this depth of meaning in Holy Scripture. It is there, waiting for the rest of us, ready to teach us about making good choices no matter how young or not-so-young we happen to be. Amen.