Great Experiences – A Youth Sermon
...was the theme for the 2012 – 2013 program year for Westminster youth in grades 7 – 12 and for the amazing Youth Sunday on February 24. Youth Sunday featured sermons by WPC high school seniors Callie B., Meredith H., Marisa K., Ryan K., and Shelly S. Each person’s message was created individually, with a little editing assistance from Church Educator Susan Moseley. All five seniors have been active in 180° since middle school.
Sermon by 180° Senior Marisa K.
In 2008, my friend Shelly invited me to come to church with her. I was hesitant because I had never gone to a youth group before and had not gone to church in years. I remember telling her I didn’t want to go because I felt like I was too non-religious and socially awkward to join such a group. Also, I had just moved from Seattle, Washington, and didn’t fit in at my school, so I didn’t think I would fit in a church youth group either. Shelly convinced me to go with her, and it was probably the best decision I’ve made. This church has provided me so many opportunities, and I have had such great experiences.
One of my great experiences was going to Louisiana to help victims of Hurricane Katrina. We painted houses and talked to victims, and it was touching to see how kind and generous these people were. Also, the trip has influenced my decision to major in meteorology in college. At Westminster, I’ve also been able to be in four dinner theater productions, which have been amazing to be a part of. Bob and Suzie were so welcoming and actually gave me roles in the productions, which was very exciting for me.
As I went to youth group, even though I was having fun and making friends and doing dinner theater and doing youth ensemble, I was still having a hard time going to church. Whenever I went to a service, I would just sit there and listen to the pastor and be very confused. I didn’t understand what the pastor was saying. I didn’t understand God or Jesus or any of the stories from the Bible. It was disheartening because I wanted to be part of this church so badly, but I didn’t feel fully part of it because of my own spiritual confusion. This was until December 14, 2012.
On that day, America was shocked by the tragedy of the shooting in Sandy Hook, Connecticut. Twenty children and eight adults died. All the little kids were in first grade and only six or seven years old. My brother, Lucas John, is a first grader, so the tragedy hit my family hard. I had a hard time understanding what had happened. I couldn’t understand who could have so much pain in their heart that they would murder 27 people.
I prayed a lot that week. Sometimes I didn’t even know what I was praying for. I didn’t want to be mad at the shooter, Adam Lanza, for the tragedy. How can you be mad at someone who’s so upset with life? However, I really did want to hate him like the rest of America.
I went to church that week. I listened to Dr. Jones speak, and I finally understood. I can’t really understand why, but I felt like God and Jesus were there with me that day.
I held a candlelight vigil in my neighborhood that week. We released 27 balloons, one for the mom and Adam and the rest for the other victims. I said a prayer, and we all sang Amazing Grace. It was beautiful how such a tragedy can bring everyone together. We had no judgment toward Adam Lanza. Like in the Bible story we read today with the woman caught in adultery, we all wanted to throw stones and kill Adam Lanza, but we all have sinned ourselves, so how can we truly judge him?
I try to go to services now and have started to read the Bible. I will be eternally grateful for this church and what it has given to me: opportunity, experience, and a spiritual connection with God.