“Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” I Corinthians 13:11-13.
This past year, I took on the task of teaching Confirmation with our lack of a full time pastor in our church. I have trembled greatly at the task and have enjoyed it immensely at the same time–we teach the 7th and 8th graders. These kids are in the transition that Paul speaks of–and yet, they often don’t realize the transition is occurring. Isn’t it interesting how Paul bookends this transition period with the concept of love. Over the past year, we have studied the Lord’s Prayer, Baptism, Communion, the confessions, and structure of the church. As I said, I have trembled greatly. How do you describe the intimacy of God as He allows us to refer to Him as ‘Our Father’? How do you impress upon these minds the presence of God in the sacrament of Baptism or Communion. How do you establish in minds that are full of schoolwork, basketball, baseball, football, and yes, that mysterious other sex, the idea that our ancestors cared enough about sharing the message of grace through faith in Jesus that they established churches, built schools, and hospitals and even arranged for Confirmation classes for those who follow after! I remind them that the Israelites spent 40 years in the wilderness absorbing that first confirmation session. Jesus compressed the time with his disciples to only 3 years–24 hours a day, 7days a week. We do the classes in two abbreviated years. I, like probably every other confirmation teacher, try to impress upon them that this class is only a beginning–there is so much more to a life in Christ than we could possibly cover in this class. Several years ago, our son, Dave, while with the Marines had a government sponsored trip to Babylon–or should I say the ruins of Babylon. For the great, majestic, bustling city that was so terrible is now a tourist stop. The mighty have fallen, but ‘love never ends.’ We live in a world that is doomed to end–all of the appointments, all of the busyness, even time itself will come to an end, yet ‘love never ends.’ The challenge of switching thought processes from those of a child to those of a man (or woman) is a daunting process especially considering that the lies of the Devil, the vanity of the world, and the pride of self are so active in their opposition to the change. Always in the conflict, we must remember that ‘love never ends!’ Every class time, I enter that room with an organized class plan, yet I know that even my insight is only a dim view of the reality of God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit. Yet, that dim view is so exciting to me and I hope I can impart some of that to the kids, because in it I see that ‘love never ends!’ Whatever you’re facing today, my prayer is that you enjoy the day, for as we move through this Lenten season of the Church, as we approach again the celebration of the empty tomb of Easter Sunday–again the message reverberates: ‘LOVE NEVER ENDS!’
~ Lyle Mattson