Teen Resurrection

by Charlotte Long, Youth Ministries

I think about Father Hardman's ideas about death and resurrection all the time; literally, at least once a week I say out loud, in a sort of shouting mantra, "BECAUSE EVERYTHING IS DEATH AND RESURRECTION," and whoever I am with at that moment furrows their brow. Chris would argue that these are not his ideas per se, but he was the first one to point out to me that this concept is in far more than just Jesus' story - it is in everything we do and are doing all the time. That truth is one of the things Jesus' story shows us. Perhaps I also think about it so much because it is so prevalent in teen life. Teenagers are at a time in their story when they are constantly shedding old ideas, old identities, and old myths, for new ones. Sometimes every day! A switch, a change of heart, a passing into all in all. It is freeing to watch. Parts of childhood are dying in them and something greater is being born. It is sometimes a struggle and sometimes as easy as falling off a log, as my grandma would say.

Spring is a big reminder of that in our community. Not only is the world around bursting into physical resurrection, but spring also brings graduations and the end of school: markers of the year moving forward, a falling-into a new chapter. The national education system is inherently cyclical. It follows the turning of the seasons and the holidays, and each rotation is marked by an escalating number grade (1st grade, 5th grade, High School etc.) We have a lot of High School seniors graduating this year, Seniors who happen to have been freshman my very first year at Holy Comforter, and so I feel the death part of this year's cycle keenly; of course, they will feel the resurrection sooner than I. And that is the whole point.

With that in mind, it is right and good that Youth Sunday falls in the Spring, when I am most likely to get weepy over them, when they are the most likely to overwhelm me with their wisdom. This year's Youth Sunday will fall on Mother's Day, May 8th ("But on Mother's Day, wouldn't a mother want to be celebrated for all of the great things about her BESIDES being a mother??" - a smart High School student said to me.) We will have Senior Preachers giving us their collected nuggets of wisdom, the Rite13 class is writing the Prayers of the People, the Youth Choir will be singing and previous ASP youth attendees will be presenting at Adult Forum about ASP - i.e. Appalachian Service Project, the non-profit organization we serve with to rebuild homes every year. It is a celebration of youth in our community.

In case you were worried... Youth Ministry is not just about making sure teens come to church. And it is not just for families with kids! We believe deeply, as our Godly play curriculum assumes, that God comes to the young ones just as much as God comes to us. Our children have their own mysterious relationship with the Divine that we should forever be trying to cultivate and even copy. It is a relationship of assumed give-and-take, without definitions or borders, living outside the dualistic mind of adults, abiding in love. Youth Ministry is a huge part of what keeps the body of the church moving, pumping blood to the other organs, if you will. It focuses on inviting those who are not already part of the church into the deeper narrative of the Holy Purpose; it reminds the church that teens are not marginalized members of the body, but co-creators and conspirators in the divine work of the church; it helps the church focus on the way of Jesus, which goes beyond tradition, dogma, and work (Karen Schlabach, Diocese of Kansas.)

And it gives us, in stark silhouette, the story of death and resurrection - our story - in all of its glory and hope.

Come celebrate with us, May 8th! In so doing, you celebrate the forward movement of the body of Christ, the resurrection in each of our individual lives and the fact that YOU are the manifestation of LOVE itself.