Yesterday my parish, the Cathedral Community, where I have been Coordinator of Youth Ministry for the past three years, gave me a farewell party. Teens, parents, staff, and parishioners who have supported youth ministry came to wish me well as I end my time working for the parish. It was a nice party.
I am left feeling sad, melancholy. The party really closed this chapter in my life. I have loved being a youth minister. I have loved these teens in a way I never knew I was capable of loving anyone. When I took this job, God gave me a gift – a grace that opened my heart and allowed me to love each one of “my” teens unconditionally. It did not matter how they acted, what they did, what they told me. Love for them poured out of me, more love than could possibly have been just mine. I became a vessel filled with God’s love for the teens. I recognized that the love was not from me, but was merely flowing through me. It was a gift.
I wonder, what will happen to this grace now that I don’t hold this position? What will happen to the love? I know that the grace of love was given for a reason – loving the teens helped me to be an effective minister, to listen better, to be there for them, to give them direction. If it was given for a reason, and the reason is gone, what will happen now? Will the love go away? Will the grace come to an end? Will it be transferred to a new ministry? Channeled back to my family?
Love never ends. That much I know. 1 Corinthians 13 says “Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never ends.” I am going to hold onto that promise. The love that was given to me as a grace so that I could do my job will not end just because the job has ended. It would be too heartbreaking if that were to happen.
I do not know what the future holds for me. I will miss this ministry and seeing the teens every week. I am sure something will come along to fill my time. I just hope that it will be something as fulfilling and life-giving and grace-filled as my work in youth ministry has been. And I am holding onto the hope that this unconditional love that I have been aware of for three years will continue to flow through me and out to the world. Love never ends. Love never ends. I am holding on to that promise.