By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.
One of my happy duties as a pastor and youth worker is to document our activities through photography. And I try to teach and share this duty with our youth to capture new perspectives and free myself up for other duties. Like every good youth leader and parent, I typically force them all into one group photo at the end of a major event. It's rarely our best picture. It identifies everyone who was present, but doesn't capture the moments of interaction and relationship. But I left the camera on the tripod as we loaded the van at the end of our weekend retreat last Sunday. And the youth snapped some of our best photos of the weekend of pure joy and shenanigans. Pastor Neal saw the photos and commented, "they look like they love each other." They do.
Youth do things that we forget to do or choose not to do as adults. They're silly with each other. I think silliness is essential to love. Aside from the physical restrictions and limitations of aging we have as adults, when is the last time you gave a piggy back ride? Got one? Did a silly prom pose with three of your best guy friends? Laid across the legs of five friends in a queen size bed? Wrote your name in the smoke rising from a campfire? Gave someone bunny ears in a photo? Posed silly for a picture? On purpose? When did you last laugh till you cried and became totally vulnerable to a group of people? When did you last dance with no music? When did you last throw your arms around as many people as could squeeze into a selfie and take 10 pictures and try desperately to find one where you were the least blurry from laughter?
Next week is Thanksgiving. Many of us will have kids home from school or be at gatherings with grand-kids, nephews, and nieces. Watch those kids and youth. Watch how they love. Observe their silliness... and join it. Scripture tells us that what is foolishness to the world is wisdom to God's kingdom. Love, real, accepting, silly, irrational, unconditional love is foolishness to the world. It's blurry photos and cackles and superhero poses. This week, find young people, and join in their silliness. That's the kind of love, in which God delights and calls us to live. Take some selfies and dive deep in their joy. They'll know you're a disciple when they see your love. So will everyone. And love for children is great practice for loving everyone else.