Tonight ended the last regular night of the youth ministry season. The commotion of the night is so familiar — just before 6:00, I hear the rapid thunder of feet down the stairs to the youth room. There are happy explosions of "LJ! Guess what?!", or "Where's the food?!", or "Look what I have!" The night holds in store a lot of interaction. Snacking and mingling, group activities, small group discussions, compline prayer, music... It's a familiar rhythm by this time of year. There is a lot of laughter, lots of hilarious commentary, lots of what looks like chaos, but is just code for "I'm really glad I'm here."
Then it's 8:23 and I'm alone in the church, looking way up at the enormous stained glass depiction of Jesus ascending to heaven. The seats beneath it were teeming with high-spirited life just minutes ago, but they're empty now, and the room is dark and utterly silent. I can't help making my voice reverberate around the silent church, in words of thanks to the one in the window for what went on in the last few hours.
It's ministry, not magic. But something about it is full of magic. Somehow this haphazard group of kids fills a room with more than voices and motion. There is trust and urgency and relief in acceptance. There is laughter resulting from the joy of things shared in common. But it's all the result of something that can't be comprehended fully — it's like a palpable electricity crackling at the enormity of what lays just beneath the surface.
It's a room of young people who have started to get it. It's the Tuesday after Pentecost, and we're clearly not the only ones here.