|Abiding Hope's High School Youth|
When I walked into the sanctuary of Abiding Hope in Littleton, the first thing I saw was 50 smiling teenagers at the front, ready to lead worship. I knew that I was attending the Teen-Lead service, but I was blown away by the passion and confidence of the kids. Each student had role in the worship service, whether it was being a part of the many skits they did, being a part of the music, or being in the liturgical dances that they performed to praise God. Everybody had a chance to share their gifts with the congregation.
To quote a part of the service, “We must trust that God is going to work on us, and we’ll break through the obstacles we face for the sake of life.” The message the youth conveyed is that we have to break through the hard things in life that would lead us away from God, or the false expectations/masks we put on ourselves that separate us from God in order to truly experience our life and our relationship with God.
However, that’s not always easy. One of my favorite parts of the worship was when one of the youth boldly said, “The New Testament is scary.” When I think of scary, or things I don’t really want to delve into because it intimidates me, I usually think of the Old Testament and of the God that destroys entire cities, or wages wars. I don’t really think of Jesus in the New Testament.
But, when the youth explained it, it made perfect sense. The skit that followed was the story of Lazarus being raised from the dead. The youth pointed out that Jesus calls Lazarus by name. He doesn’t just say, “hey you” or “dead guy.” He calls him Lazarus. In the same way, Jesus calls us by name to do hard and challenging things, and we are changed and transformed by those things. That is scary.
One of the most powerful things of the service was that these kids didn’t just talk the talk, they walked the walk. The whole service was centered around being your authentic self that God created you to be, even when that was hard and scary. One of the final skits of the service was a skit where the youth talked about the “cards” that we’re dealt in our life. They spoke about how some of the cards we love, and some of the cards we wish we could get rid of, or cover up with one of our more “desirable” cards (it’s a metaphor you see). But, we don’t have a choice in the cards we’re dealt, and it’s up to us to find a way to use and appreciate all of our cards for the glory of God.
As they spoke, the youth were holding large cards they had made in front of them, but we couldn’t see what they were. In a moment of beautiful vulnerability, the youth turned over their cards to reveal what was written on the other side. Each was a statement about themselves that they were afraid to share, a part of themselves that they try to hide, or don’t talk about. But, as they said, we must tear away our masks, own all the cards we are dealt, and continue forward as a community in order to truly live, and allow others to live as well.
The service ended with communion, the meal for all, which the youth served. After the vulnerability and the truth that the youth of the congregation spoke to us, we were given the greatest gift in the universe (that’s communion) by the youth. When I received communion, both of the teens serving looked me in the eye and confidently proclaimed “The body of Christ, given for you” and “The blood of Christ, shed for you.” They knew that the meal they were serving me was important, and worthy of celebration. How powerful.
Seeing youth owning their power in such a poignant way was beautiful and inspiring. As 1 Peter 4:12 says, “Let no one despise your youth, but set the believers an example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” There is a lot we can learn from the youth of the church, and the youth of Abiding Hope showed that wonderfully.
- Kaari the Intern