Loss Made My 'Infinity' Stronger - A Youth Sermon
...that’s the theme for the 2012 – 2013 program year for Westminster youth in grades 7 – 12 and for the amazing Youth Sunday held on February 24, 2013. In addition to Youth Sunday, activities throughout the year, including the Dinner Theatre productions and a Sunday night speaker series, have centered around this theme.
Youth Sunday featured sermons by WPC high school seniors Callie B., Marisa K., Ryan K., Shelly S., and Meredith H. (pictured right). 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. How blessed we are to witness God’s presence in such amazing youth and their leaders!
Sermon by 180° Senior Shelly S.
Saturday May 23, 2009, was the day that my cousin died of a very specific cancer that I did not know existed until she was diagnosed in 2007. I know this exact date because that was my 14th birthday. I don’t remember much about that birthday other than receiving the news that she had passed. I got the generic death speech from my parents, which ended with the predictable question, “Do you have any questions?” I didn’t. While I didn’t and still don’t know much about blue ring cell cancer, I knew for sure of two things. Thing number one, it was cancer. Thing number two, cancer often leads to death. I was a bystander hearing of a sick girl losing her life.
After the 11:15 service that Sunday, I had to go fetch my brother from talking to an estimated 15 different people as he did every Sunday morning. On my way to get him I ran into Reverend Chad Miller. He had on his goofy Chad Miller smile as he always did. He seemed to notice that I was upset about something. He asked me what was wrong and I told him of my cousin’s death the day before. We had as much of a conversation as we could in our small time period, but when I had to go he told me something that I would never forget.
“I know you feel awful now, but try to remember God has a plan for her just like he has a plan for you. She’s no longer suffering and she will always be with you.”
What he meant by this is that she was able to make an impact, not just in my life but in all the lives around her, and she was able to do this in 15 years as opposed to the “average” lifespan.
I’m going to fast forward to Tuesday, June 2, 2009. I came home from school to my dad watching the news. I asked what scandal was being shown and exaggerated that day and he told me there were two men kayaking in the Brandywine River. Those two men were Chris and Chad Miller. They found Chris dead after drowning when he was flipped from the kayak. Chad was lost. I asked my dad if he was alive, and he said he didn’t know. I spent the next couple of days convincing myself he was.
Hearing that Chad Miller’s body was found was not a relief. It wasn’t a relief because that meant that he was dead. They would have said they found Chad Miller if he was alive. I was a bystander seeing that God’s plan for Chad on this earth had been completed. He had made his impact in 34 years as opposed to my cousin’s 15 and the “average” lifespan.
The youth choir sang at Chad’s memorial service. I robed up with them even though I didn’t want to. I was angry and sad and confused. How could God have a plan that involved taking two important people from me in the same time period? When I saw that Chad’s stole was on his chair at the front of the church, I started crying. I was sitting next to a lifelong friend, Callie, and when she saw me crying she took my hand and said over and over again, “It’s okay. It’s going to be okay.”
One of my favorite authors, John Green, wrote something in his book The Fault in Our Stars that I truly believe in. “Some infinities are longer than other infinities.” For example, the infinity of your life is going to be longer than the infinity of your career. I spent part of my infinity with part of my cousin’s and Chad’s infinities. I was a bystander watching the infinity of their lives on earth come to an end. With such infinities comes loss and grief, but for me, that loss only made my infinity stronger. I can’t tell you what comes next for my infinity because there are an infinite number of options, but I know how to keep my infinity going, even if I’m just a bystander watching other infinities go by.