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It seems so often in life that time is not our friend. Time is the evil nemesis lurking around corners waiting to grab you and take you away. Time brings an end to everything. But nevertheless, time will always be there, so what we do with our time is how we build our lives.
In his book, "Einstein's Dreams," Allen Lightman draws together a series of fictional stories inspired by Albert Einstein. As the defiant but sensitive young genius is creating his theory of relativity, a new conception of time emerged where he imagines many possible worlds. I chose two of these stories to illustrate time and its place in our world. They are polar opposites: one examines a world with no time and the other is a world where time never ends.
The first scenario painted a world where time is of the essence, time is everything because life is so short. You have just one day to mold your life. And beyond that you see only one rotation of the earth--just 24 hours. This scenario makes one realize the importance of "doing" and living freely. When you have no time, you treasure the gift of life, you make the most out of every moment, there is no time for burdens or pains, there is no time for war. On the alternative end though, this life is restricted so much that a human, who is a social creature, cannot make long-lasting relationships with others. A person cannot see the world and travel. Cultures and diversity would not be created. With so much to see, a person would have no time to pick up a guitar and learn how to play, no time to read a book, and no time to knit a sweater. The human desire to create a family and shelter them as they grow is no longer a thought. A person has no time.
The other scenario is a world which some people may long for and want endless time. Time isn't even a figure in your mind. Instead of saving for the future, you can see the future. Endless time would give you the means to do and get whatever you desire. You can learn so much. You can build endless relationships. You can watch your family grow forever--every grandchild, great grandchild, great-great grandchild, and so forth. With endless time you have the time to discover who you are. You have time to travel the world. You can do so much with no rush. Alternatively, the pitfalls can be devastating. What more would people have to look forward to? Religion would be dead. People would have time to fight and judge others. Wars would start and last forever. Life is no longer precious; it is merely just a "thing". Living itself becomes the greatest burden of all.
To me, the pitfalls of the second world are greater than that of the first. Though both are not ideal standards, I would choose the first because it requires no grief or burdens. Yes, that is a cowardice answer, but I believe that the people of the second world would become so immensely lugubrious and weighted down that life would become the enemy. Life would become a living hell. I couldn't imagine that absolute despair. I would much rather want to appreciate my life and cherish each moment because it is, after all, my last.
These two worlds showed me that time is neither an enemy nor a friend but a part of God's plan. I learned that I must appreciate it but also take it slowly. Reading these scenarios really made me realize how amazing our earth is and how perfectly it is designed.
Lament: Merriam Webster's Dictionary defines lament as, "An expression of grief or sorrow; especially in verse or song."
This time, however, I'll tell it as a story.
An eleven-year old boy and his friends outside on the boy's wooden deck innocently playing with firecrackers. Somehow, the boy dropped one on the deck igniting a small fire. The fire began to engulf the entire back deck until it happened. The fire ignited a propane tank adjacent to the family's grill, and the house violently combusted, burning down to only its frameworks.
The young boy, his two older sisters, and parents all were fine. All they had left were the clothes on their back, one car, a laptop, and the parent's wedding album.
The last part of this story I neglected to mention; it's a true story!
The eldest daughter (let's call her Jane) is also a senior in high school. Jane and I are close friends.
Though I have gone on many mission trips and seen destruction and poverty at its worst, in my short life that kind of pain and loss never truly registered until it was personal.
Still in a state of shock, Jane's closest friends and I sat around suggesting ways to assist the family. Instinctively, I inquired, "Does she have a church family," because I sometimes wonder where my family and I would be today without Westminster.
Each member of the group of friends made a contribution. One donated her old clothes. Another donated his old iPod. One girl even initiated the beginnings of a 5K fundraiser. All of Jane's closest friends made some contribution, all of which mattered.
Upon reflection, I thought of all the memories I would have lost, had my home burnt down, and I truly understood what mattered in my life. Many would love to start life over again to make different decisions or make adjustments along the way. Yet Jane's mother, as she was outside her burning home, said it best, "You cannot change the past. All that matters is that we're okay; so let's move on."
She's right. Houses burn down.
Hurricanes flood unsuspecting places.
Oil spills pollute the oceans.
As people of faith, we cannot dwell on the past. Lamenting the damage to Jane's house or to God's creation is normal, but not sufficient. We cannot change the past. What we can control is the present and future. As Jane's close friends demonstrated every little contribution, regardless of its magnitude, makes a difference in the long run. With such assistance, Jane and her family are on their way to rebuilding their lives.
As Christians we must help heal God's green earth. Every action makes an impact. After witnessing devastation in my life, and on the Lord's creation, I am determined to change and serve those ailing on God's earth. Are you as well?
Last week I saw the new blockbuster craze, "the Hunger Games." The story is about the capital city of Panem which controls the 12 districts that surround it, each district suffers in poverty while the capital thrives. To exercise the capital's power over the districts, Panem sends 2 people from each district to "the Hunger Games" the honor of which is to fight to the death. Despite the inhumane topic of the movie, there was one quote that stuck with me. It was something like "the only thing greater than fear is hope." At the time I didn't give it much thought, in retrospect it's an extremely profound idea.
In many aspects of our daily lives, the technique of fear is used to try and scare people to action: Environmental agencies release videos, statements and documentaries all focusing on the horrors of our world and what the world will turn into if we continue to be careless.
This fear for our future has not exactly resonated, people see our planet as a hopeless cause, or they turn a deaf ear because they are not strong enough to confront the real problems of our society.
If the only thing greater than fear is hope, then it is time to quit using fear to try and enable action to save and purify our world. We need to start speaking hope.
President Obama's campaign in 2008 was centered on Hope, and his message spread like a wildfire. People were desperate for a hope that there was a way out of the situation we were facing.
As people of Faith, we understand hope.
Also, in 2008 our youth pastor, Chad Miller, died in a kayaking accident. Chad was funny and smart and someone that we, as the youth, could all look up to, and confide in.
In the weeks after Chad's death, I traveled to Maine with my aunt. Sitting on a cliff that jutted out into the ocean, I had an extremely spiritual experience. It was as if I could feel God sitting right next to me, comforting me. He gave me hope that I could be strong and face the sadness that had come into my life. God gives us the strength to hope, and he charges us to go forward and share that hope with the world. It has now become our duty to find ways to spread a hope for the future of our earth with others.
To feel hopeful that walking instead of driving makes a difference, that recycling makes a difference, that the people we are putting into office are making policies that will make a difference. To have hope that everything we do will make a difference. To step outside the ordinary, and forge a path to a healthier, better world. If the only thing greater than fear is hope; it is our time to spread hope.
Today every member of the Westminster youth is wearing a shirt with a key word that is meant to inspire hope. We are advocating for everyone to cherish, replenish, rebuild, support, care for, and love the earth. We are advocating for a change in our world, for hope above fear. We challenge all of you to follow the advice of Gandhi and "be the change you wish to see in the world."
In your life what are you certain of? I'm 18 years old, about to start life on my own, and I'm only certain about one thing: My calling to help others.
I started my journey at a very young age. I remember collecting food with girl scouts and taking it to the Kennett food cupboard, and planting new trees for the environment. As I grew up, the way I helped others grew too.
I was soon old enough to attend Youth Club then moved up to Youth Group. With the guidance of the Youth Group, I was able to participate in many activities: Some being, the 30-Hour Famine, Saturday Morning Breakfast, Midnight Run, and four mission trips. From all these experiences, I have learned so much, but the most important is what Chad taught me. He taught me, mission doesn't have boundaries. No matter where I go or who I am with someone will appreciate my presence. With this lesson in mind, so many doors opened for me.
Because of Chad, I was given the opportunity to travel to Guatemala. Even though I lost Chad right before the trip, I wanted to keep his lesson alive. While I was there, I worked hard to help the people. I wanted them to know that even though I lived far away, I still cared. Something happened that I didn't expect though, they helped me too. Chad was right. Mission really doesn't have boundaries.
No matter where we are or who we are with, whether it is here at home or far away we can help each other. I am going to continue practicing Chad's lesson by traveling to Africa this summer on Westminster's mission trip, and hopefully finding new ways to help in College.
On behalf of the youth, I would like to thank the church for giving us so many great opportunities to go out and help others. I know it's hard work to put plans into action but they all meant a lot to us and helped shaped who we are. So, I welcome you to go out into the community and do what you can for others whether it's brightening someone's day or planting a tree ... a small act of kindness can go a long way no matter where you are.
We take your confidentiality seriously. Please know that only the Prayer Ministry Team receives this information.
We take your confidentiality seriously. Please know that only a pastor receives this information.