I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly (John 10:10).
Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed! Alleluia!
The season of Easter is ushered in with flowers and festive music, a holy meal, and shouts of “Alleluia!” We celebrate life. We celebrate resurrection. We celebrate God whose love is so expansive that it overcomes all that is death and dormant so that we might have life and have it abundantly.
What is life abundant? As followers of Christ, we might ascribe a somewhat formal definition that life abundant is new life in Jesus Christ, Son of God and sovereign of all, knowing we are forgiven by God who is and was and will ever be. Life abundant is knowing that we are loved, named and called in baptism, and sent to serve and to witness. Such abundant life is good news at any age, but the manifestation of such good news might feel or manifest differently at various times in our lives.
If we’re serious about being a community of the baptized, including the smallest of babies to the oldest of elders, I wonder what life abundant looks like for different people, different groups and segments within our communities.
I have a soft spot in my heart for my confirmation kiddos, always have, hope to always will. I love their vulnerability and inquisitiveness. I even love the sassiness they sometimes bring. From time to time, I fear, we forget that at their baptism, we received them as fellow children in the body of Christ. I fear we focus on preaching only to the adults, planning programming that focuses on the littler guys or older folks, and hoping that a pizza party and quick prayer will suffice when it comes to the awkward time between childhood and adulthood.
I am thankful this isn’t the case across our church. In many congregations, youth serve on committees, boards and teams. They lead worship and serve neighbors in need. They engage in intensive study of Scripture and catechism. They take time for reflection on what it means to follow Jesus and to be their hands doing God’s work in the world. I give thanks to God for communities of faith where faith formation ministry speaks to and from their daily life now as students, children, siblings, friends, athletes, artists and so on.
What does abundant life look like to confirmation students? I asked mine. Truth be told, I framed the question a little to lead them, “Knowing God’s love through Jesus, what does abundant life mean for you?” When I asked, I was a little nervous. I’ve only gotten to know them in the 10 months I’ve been serving my congregation. Often their joys and concerns lean toward self alone, about their homework and their social lives or winning in sports. While I think they’re all pretty great, I prepared myself to hear about wealth, possession and power, earthly things with value and appeal that can go dormant. I should have given them more credit.
What does abundant life look like in their lives? We sat in silence, and then the first one piped up, “Spending time with my family and friends.” “He stole mine!” another quipped. After some time for thought, she added, “Having enough to eat.” “Equality,” a third offered. Their thoughtful responses continued until we had to conclude in time to head to worship.
Abundant life isn’t only for a season of the year or for a season in life. God, who began the good work in us, in our church, in our young people, will continue to bring it all into completion through all the days of our lives.
Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed!