There are times when it’s ok to let something pass quietly.
There are other times when something has to be said.
I was charged with leading worship at the URC Youth Assembly last weekend and as we neared the end of our time together it grew more and more apparent that we should acknowledge the moving on of those aged 25, who would be old to return next year.
I saw a loom like this one on Twitter last week. Someone created one for the Deep Impact conference in Aviemore. It looked great, so I stole it. I was going to use it for something else but as the young people wove their brightly coloured strands together it struck me that this could be something we could use to mark a rite of passage.
Here’s what was said between the singing of Guide me, O thou great Jehovah and I, the Lord of sea and sky:
“Could those for whom this is their last Youth Assembly please stand if you are able or raise your hand to let us know who you are.
You know that I like songs and that extends, perhaps surprisingly, beyond Abba’s greatest hits. There’s a song by Semisonic called ‘closing time’. Everyone thinks it’s about chucking out time at the pub. But it’s not. It’s actually about a man contemplating the birth of his child. It has one of my favourite lines in it, and I think it says something for us all, but especially for you at this time. It’s this:
Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.
Youth Assembly is one of those things that come into our lives and it can be a hugely significant part of both our journey of faith and our journey through life. For those who have come to the upper age limit today, passing the grand old age of 25, this time of worship marks the end of your time with this particular part of the church.
And that is how it should be. Ecclesiastes tells us that there is a time and a season for everything under the sun. You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here. And that’s as it should be.
God needs you. The church needs you.
So we want to take the opportunity to thank you, for you’re the gifts you have shared with us, for your enthusiasm and most of all for your friendship. You have blessed this community. Your stories, just like the strips of cloth on the loom, are woven into the story of this church and have been an integral part of the fabric of our life together, bringing colour and beauty.
We would like to bless you as you step out from this place and set out on new journeys of faith.
We would encourage you to take all that this place has meant and still means to you with you, to take the best of us, to take your passion for God, and share it with those you meet along the way, wherever your journey takes you.
When we bless people and send them out we have a tradition of ‘laying on hands’. So, could those around the people who are moving on gather round them and just lay your hands on their shoulders as we pray a blessing on them.
A Commissioning (adapted from Spill the Beans)
The Good News of Jesus Christ
It is nothing short of revolutionary.
This is the message we preach.
This is the story we live.
It’s not an easy life.
But is a life like no other.
The call to you
is to stand up and be counted,
exactly as Jesus did:
to go after the big fish,
to make disciples of all people
often leaving familiar things behind.
It’s time to step out
Time to embrace your calling
Time to break cover
Time to follow Jesus
into the world
But go with our friendship
go with the love of God almighty
go with the leading of Jesus, the Christ, your saviour
go with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit
to guard and keep you safe
this day and always.