At the end of the time that the king had set for them to be brought in, the palace master brought them into the presence of Nebuchadnezzar, and the king spoke with them. And among them all, no one was found to compare with Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; therefore they were stationed in the king’s court. In every matter of wisdom and understanding concerning which the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom. And Daniel continued there until the first year of King Cyrus.
The media tend to lampoon young people—the “hipster” generation—for their unorthodox ways, entitled personalities and lack of knowledge. They always have, right? Sometimes young people can surprise us at the very moment we are losing faith in them—and subsequently, humanity itself. As I write I am reading of 16 year old Greta Thunburg who is capturing the attention of politicians the world over on climate change.
Our Drumchapel congregation runs ‘Friendship House’, a global café and support centre for refugees and asylum seekers. One of the great lessons our friends teach us is they light up when we treat them not as inferior beings (that need our help because we are so great and good), but as people with skills that can build up the community. They teach us how to cook food in their culture as opposed to us showing them how to cook in ways which, justifiably so, most of them detest.
That can be a challenge for volunteers, most of whom are elder women who have fed their families and church community for ages with no problem. The “experts” get a lesson in quality and good taste every week now, via foreigners younger than them.
It was a risky scheme, but the Hebrew ‘talented tenth’ living in the palace have found favour with Nebuchadnezzar. The diet of their culture have made them stronger and, maybe not smarter, but more connected to the wisdom of their faith in that they can interpret and influence the world around them.
This is not necessarily an ancient advertisement for superfoods! However, in difficult times it is crucial to have people, even youth, who can embrace tradition as a way of reorienting a disoriented world.
Elihud Kipchoge, world record marathoner said, “Everybody has talent, but that’s not enough…talent and passion go together.” This text expresses the talent and the passion of the Hebrew youngsters in the imperial palace. It also gives the Empire a taste of the truth of their God’s power.
O For the young who tune their eyes to see broader than us: Lord, give strength, humility, and passion. For the ‘middle aged’ who feel they have missed their moment to change the world: Lord, give opportunity and confidence. For the aging, who feel their days are far gone: Lord, may this youthful generation give ear to listen and space to be part of the struggle. Help us to love one another. Amen.
The Rev’d William Young, Minister, Essenside URC Glasgow and Morison Memorial URC Clydebank.