Yesterday was Pentecost Sunday, Mother's Day, Bread for the World Offering of Letters, the 2nd week in our local camp's Capital Campaign, Communion and to top it all off, Youth Sunday. Yes, that's right, I had the privilage of coordinating the single busiest day of the year. It was chaos and fantastic fun.
Each year, I tell the seniors, who are responsible for planning the service, that they can be as creative as they'd like with the service. I tell them I will help make almost anything happen. Every year, they plan a lovely service that looks much like any other Sunday morning with the exception of a few upbeat praise like songs.
This year, the seniors took me up on the offer. I sat with one of them for three hours in a coffee shop dreaming and scheming. We finally structured the service around seven words - Welcome, Confess, Forgive, Learn, Offer, Nourish, and Bless. Our regular bulletin was scrapped. Each section was labeled with one of the 7 words that a 9th graders designed on her computer (see "Bless" above). One of the seniors created 7 large boxes that illustrated the words. These were used to build and then tear down the service. As the youth and then the congregation confessed their sins, the "Confess" box was placed on the stack. As we heard the words of forgiveness, the "Forgive" box was stacked upon the others. Slowly the service took shape. Two seniors preached. The youth served communion. The music was fun but not cheesy. The youth pulled off the whole service with grace. They did not look nervous and they were where they needed to be when they needed to be there.
I often think Youth Sunday is like putting on a huge stage production. It takes me hours to figure out the choreography - the microphones, the transitions, the movement, the verbal cues. As each youth arrives on Youth Sunday, I hand them a bulletin filled with instructions. "Mark, Lisa, and Sarah go up to the chancel during the passing of the peace. Kate, Susan, and Tim come down from the chancel and sit in the congregation....and so on." Rehearsal is noisy chaos and the service, beautiful. I love it. I love every single part of it - except saying good-bye to the seniors.
This year, I said good-bye to these two. They were in 5th grade when I arrived at Our Big Steeple. They attended youth group as 5th graders because their mother's often helped out. For me, this is an end of an era. Those that were youth when I arrived are now gone. I have officially been here a long time. Its been fun to watch them all grow up but I gotta tell you, I'm going to miss them. And yes, I cried as I said good-bye and then asked a blessing on them.