But like I said, it was two days that celebrate love. One is a bit more obvious. After all, Valentine's Day has spectacular marketing. The other is Ash Wednesday, not so much caught up in the marketing game, but no less a testament of love. In fact, it's the day we orient ourselves toward the greatest love of all, a love that compelled Jesus to lay down his life for us.
And in the midst of all the fun and sugar on Wednesday, it was important to the leaders that we took some time to sit with the kids and share that love. We reminded the kids of two truths that should keep us afloat and propel us forward in a world that is woefully lacking in love; the truths that we are deeply loved, and because of that, we must go and love.
As a youth leader, there are few things I delight it speaking over the kids more than the truth that they are loved; that in any given moment, Jesus loves them as much as they could possible ever be loved. What a contrast to the world where love can come and go based on mood, circumstances, physical looks and all those things that can turn on a dime. In a world like that, we need to be speaking that truth to one another's identities; that there is nothing that can separate us from the love of Jesus.
And because of that love, because we possess so great a love, we can look at the world with hope. We can look at a world where there is abuse, fear, war, addiction, and violence, and we can know that the promise of the life of Jesus, the Crucifixion of Jesus, and the Resurrection of Jesus is that none of those things get the final say. We know that the love of Jesus is making all things new, and that resurrection is the promise of God's kingdom sprouting up in the middle of the darkness.
As followers of Jesus, we have the ability to live out that love, to bring it into existence here on earth. And that is my prayer for our students, and for our church...that they are emboldened to love because they know how deeply they are loved.