In the church I grew up in, the Second Sunday of Easter was always one of the two Sundays of the year (the other being the First Sunday after Christmas) when they turned the young people loose in the parish. They led the service, read the lessons, and gave the sermon. I suppose the rationale was that since these two Sundays had fairly sparse attendance, the fewest possible numbers of parishioners could take offence, just in case.
Once on this day in the very early 1970s, one of our high school guys got up and preached a sermon on the evils of using soap. Nearly fifty years later, my parents are still talking about this.
In our monastic practice, the guarantor of the prophetic witness of the Order’s life in the midst of the Church is our genuine self-emptying love for one another, and each of us is called to mutual care, mutual cooperation, and mutual obedience, to take equal responsibility for the spiritual state of the community.
There were probably others besides my parents who were mystified—or mortified—by Doug’s anti-soap sermon, but they never stopped coming and crucially, the parish never stopped allowing the young people the privilege of that form of service.
In our life in community we may mystify, even mortify each other, but we can be sure that God who called us together is also teaching us together, refining and enlightening our understanding of what we are to be about, and working in us the growing form of Jesus who is our life and our peace.