There is an old story in the Bible
with one common language
and a single idea
to build a tower
to reach heaven
It would be wonderful
the greatest human achievement
they would be like gods
God had a bigger idea
and scattered the human race
across the earth
each with their own language and culture
The place had a name: Babel
we say it means “confusion”
But it actually means: Gate of heaven.
Where diversity begins
we find the way into God
in our diversity
such as it is
in our variety
which makes us unique
in our many culture and colours
of faiths and religions
may we have eyes wide enough
to see you in everyone
that vision of what the kingdom should be
May we hear you in the languages of others
recognise you in the faith of our neighbours
see you in the needs of our parish
find you in every generation
that we might celebrate each part of our community
and find the pattern of community
that brings each piece together
in young people and their skills
and older folk and their wisdom
in the experiences of building
not high towers
or long walls
but a community
that weaves the generations together
and raps it up
in a vision for all
In the gift that is our diverse world
and the parts each of us plays in it
we give thanks
and ask that the breadth of love
transforms that which his narrow
fearful of others
into that which celebrates
that makes rainbows and justice
So be it
Another brick in the tower
Let us build community,
not for ourselves or about ourselves,
but build it together.
As young people this is what we can gift:
We can gift a broader world view.
There is a bible story of a prophet asked to go to Nineveh,
a city in another country.
But he headed in the opposite direction
and when he reached the sea he jumped in a boat,
but a big fish came and swallowed him
and after three days in the belly of the fish,
it dawned on Jonah: God’s love and message is universal,
not just for his own people.
Jonah then set off, across borders,
and shared God’s message of love to all.
As young people, we can share a broader world view.
We can gift friendship and stronger relationships.
There is a bible story four young friends
who carried one of their pals, who could not walk,
onto the roof of a house.
Jesus was inside but it was too crowded for them to get in.
So they dug a hole through the roof,
tied rope to her bed mat,
and lowered her down,
right in front of Jesus,
and Jesus saw them and say her,
“Get up, roll up your mat, and walk.”
As young people we can show what the gift of friendship can do.
We can gift excitement about new things.
There is a bible story of a disciple called Peter
who had a vision one day of a great blanket coming down from heaven
and on it was the biggest picnic he had ever seen.
The problem was all the food was food his culture said you could not eat.
But a voice said to Peter: “Eat anything on the blanket!”
But Peter refused.
He had never eaten anything unclean.
This was Gentile food, food of those unlike him.
But he realised, God was saying,
“I am doing a new thing: This message of mine, about love and justice
is for all, break out of your narrow culture.”
And Peter did, and told the story of God to all the world.
As young people we can offer the excitement of new things.
We can be the gift happiness.
There is a Bible story of a woman
who was very old,
and her husband,
who was even older.
So old they could never have children,
but God said to them: “Look at the stars in the sky,
and count them."
God paused as they began to do so.
But there were too many.
“And so shall it be for your and your children,” said God,
“for you will have a child who will be the father of a nation.”
And so it was, when Sarah was 90 and Abraham a 100, a son was born.
As young people we can be that happiness and joy for the future.
We can gift encouragement.
There is a Bible story of a young man called Joshua, Moses helper.
Moses was dying.
Moses had led the Hebrews out of Egypt,
but Moses was never going to make it to the Land of Milk and Honey
and he called on Joshua and said:
“Be strong and courageous, for you shall go with this people
into the land the Lord has sworn to their fathers to give them.
You shall do this,
As young people we can be that gift of your encouragement.
We can gift activity and energy.
There is a bible story, right at the beginning
of a God who was like a midwife
and whose imagination teamed with life.
The universe exploded into being
and God designed suns and moons,
and land and sea,
and creatures and plants,
and shaped it all in six days.
After such energy and activity needed a rest
and so on the seventh day God rested.
As young people we can bring that energy and activity to life.
We can gift hope.
There is a bible story told by Jesus
of a man whose youngest son wanted his inheritance and leave home.
His father gave him his money but it was spent all too soon.
Without friends the young son found himself looking after pigs
and decided to return to his father even as a servant.
But each day the father had watched for his son
and when he saw him coming over the hill
the father ran to his son crying,
embraced him and welcomed him home.
The younger son did not become a servant,
but took his place again in the family.
As young people we life in the gift of hope.
We can gift affirmation. (This land your land)
There is a bible story of a blind man called Bartemeaus
who sat by the roadside waiting.
He heard the crowds coming with Jesus and he cried out.
But the disciples silenced him saying the saviour was too busy,
not interested in the likes of him.
But Jesus stopped and called him over
chastising the disciples.
“Do not limit God
There is room for everyone.”
It did not matter who you were,
your accident of birth.
God’s love was universal.
As young people we can be the gift that affirms God’s affirmation of all.
But instead of high towers
that show off our talents,
let us gift these things across the community.
As young people,
this is what we can give,
these are our gifts to this place,
and we begin by sharing them
and so the tower will be dismantled,
and the pieces taken to the doors,
and as you leave this morning,
you are invited to take the gift from inside the boxes,
a symbol of these gifts young people bring,
Let us share who we are
with each other
and built not a high tower
but a broad and generous community.