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The First Congregational Church, Columbus Ohio
Sunday, February 26, 2006
A sermon delivered by four members of the First Church Youth Group

This set of four sermons were preached by our youth (grades 6-12) on Transfiguration Sunday, February 26, 2006, for the First Annual Youth Sunday led entirely by the youth. Glory to God!

Everyday Faith - 4 Sermons By First Church Youth

"How I See God " - Sarah Amy

"How do you see God?" I can't tell you how many times I've been asked that question. My answer in elementary school was probably something along the lines of "a big man in white robes that sits on clouds and sees all of us." By elementary school it had changed from that to "a man that has a little bit of everything and everyone in Him." My middle school response would have had more of a feministic view: "I see God as neither man nor woman, because He's everyone."

My opinion is different even now. How do I see God? It's such a broad question, but it's so simple. God is God. He is everything and everyone. I see God in those little rays of light that peek out past the clouds; I've always said that that's Him keeping an eye on me. I see God in the community where I live, in my school, in my home. I see Him in my brother, when he does anything that brings a smile. I see him in the blades of my brother's hockey skates. They bring him so much joy, and without them, David couldn't do what he loves so much. I see God in my grips for the uneven bars at practice. Without them, without their support, and their protection for my hands, I couldn't swing. I see him in my coach, every time he tells me that there might just be a God because he sees him in me and in so many others. I see Him in my dad. He makes me laugh whenever I need it, and I can literally talk to him about anything. Same with my mom. I see God in my mom. She works so hard for other people, and everyone comes before herself. If that isn't a trait of God, I don't know what is.

I see God in adversity. I've had my share of it in the past few years, and sometimes I think it was more than my share. Without it though, how would I grow; how would I learn anything? Adversity makes me stronger. I've always liked to think of myself as someone who wouldn't back down because someone was faster, stronger, better, smarter, taller, or anything else. Life is full of adversity. But that's God. He challenges me. Without it, life would be easier, I'll give you that. But it wouldn't be half as interesting.

I see God everywhere. I mean, everywhere. I'm not one to believe that God has our entire lives planned out for us, and that we have no control. But I am one to believe that God knows exactly what He's doing with me. Every time I hit a roadblock on my journey, I know that God knows how to guide me past it. He's not going to do the work for me, but He's going to help me figure out a solution, or be patient and faithful that one will come along.

I see God as someone who is totally, completely indescribable. No words can go deep enough to say how lucky I feel to have Him in my life. I see Him in my family, my friends, my teammates at the gym, my coaches, my teachers, my community, and in my friends here and every single one of you. Have you find out how deep he runs through you? Just look at where you are. No matter what your problems are, God's got your back! That's how I see God.

"He will come to you" - Tyler Reid

We are talking about how people in our generation find God in our society. Although we are young, we still love and respect God. However, at our age, it is often times difficult to approach our peers about God, because people who love God are laughed at and are considered "weird" at school.

This is why I was caught by surprise when one of my classmates did just that. A couple of weeks ago in school, we had an in class assignment to do. The assignment was to write down a goal we had for life and illustrate it. My friend, who sits next to me in class, wrote down a few words then started to read his book. So after class I walked up to him and asked what he wrote down as his goal and why he didn't draw a picture of anything.

He explained that his goal couldn't be illustrated. So I asked what he wrote down. He replied that he would like to know and find God. I was surprised, because this young man is a person that I wouldn't expect to take this assignment seriously. I then asked why it was that he couldn't illustrate that goal. He asked what I would have drawn, and I couldn't answer. I had no idea how to draw that goal out. At that point, he had to leave.

Yet, the thought is still on my mind: how can you find God? I believe that though we must seek God, God actually helps us find him, and in a way, God finds us. Like the shepherd leading his sheep, God helps us to find him. But we must have faith and trust that God will come to us in time.

I know that for me personally it's sometimes very hard to wait for God to find me. It might be the fact that we don't have time to wait, or that we don't have enough patience. Whatever the case, it is sometimes difficult to find God. Sometimes it's easier for people if they have a certain place to find and wait for God.

For example, my place is the U.C.C. outdoor ministry camp, Pilgrim Hills. Whenever I'm there it feels like I'm just a little bit closer to God. It does sadden me that I only get to go for one week every summer, but during that week I feel the best I do all year.

During Vespers, our evening mini-worship service, I can really feel close to God because there's a small group of people and that makes it easier for me to "get into" the service. During the nature hikes, I feel closer to God because I'm walking through His creation.

And while I'm with my friends at camp, I'm surrounded with people my own age that are freely talking about their love of God and their relationship with Him. Camp is not only where I feel closest to God, but where I find my understanding of God and my relationship with Him growing. So whether you can just find God, or if you need to have a special place to find God, He loves you and He will come to you.

"There's always good that comes out of sadness" - Daniel Ahrens

There have been times God has changed my life. There have even been times that he's saved it. One of these instances occurred when I was 3 or 4 years old. My family and I were on a camping trip, I can't remember where, but I can remember what happened. It was almost dinner time, and I think that my brother and I were kind of getting in our parents hair, so we were excused to the playground very near by. Once we arrived, we saw an old metal slide, probably around 15-20 feet tall. Now remember, I was very small back then, so it looked enormous. Naturally we took it as a challenge, and childishly attempted to climb it at the same time Once at the top, my brother would be the first to slide down. We stood on the narrow metal top, like cats on a fence.

Suddenly my brother screamed something about there being a bee of some sort flying by our heads. He safely slid down, but I on the other hand, being terrified of getting stung, as I had been before as my dad was a part-time bee-keeper, lost my balance. I stumbled over the low rail and flew off of the rickety slide. Meanwhile there was a nice elder lady witnessing all this who was sitting in the park. I was plummeting head first towards the ground. But amazingly, I turned. The lady said it was as if something had spun my around onto my back. When the impact occurred, my brother was already on his way to get our mom and dad. I wound up hitting the ground on my back, managing to get away with only a sore back for an hour or more, an impact that if I would've gone head into, I surely would've been killed or massively injured. The lady stayed with me until my parents came and my dad carried me back into the cushioned seats of our van. Soon, after I stopped bawling over my fortunate injury,

I'm told I said that it felt as though someone had turned me, physically TURNED me in the air with their hands, like a guardian angel. Now you can have your own opinions on this story. You could say it was just my imagination, or maybe even that "the wind" turned me. But I believe that it was a Higher Power that turned me. There are even more stories like this I have, including one about a blizzard, and one about Lake Erie, but I don't have time for those.

I am a firm believer in God, and that everything He has done, is doing, and will do happens for a reason. He has purposes for the happy moments, the funny moments, and even the sad and hurtful moments. Because when I reflect back on things, I can't think of any time when something bad has happened, and it hasn't led to something good. Arguments lead for a time for forgiveness. Accidents allow for times of caring and charity. Basically when something is broken, with a little effort, it can be made new again, and better than before. When one dies, there is almost no time of greater unity around the ones who lost that person. When looked at in the right light, there's always good that comes out of sadness.

I believe I survived that incident for a reason. It's my job to live my life, and live it in the way God would want me to, not only because I owe it to God, but because I owe it to myself, as does everyone here. I want everyone to think of all the good that's happened in your life. Because the glass of your life isn't half empty, it's half full. And you should take that half of your life you haven't drunk yet, and quench yourself, and you'll find that it will take along time to drink in. And remember to savor every lick of that drink, because you should LIVE your life, and live it to the fullest.

And think about this: the greatest thing in the universe isn't something you can physically touch, but it can touch you. And remember the greatest moments in your life aren't when you hold a chunk of plastic and metal that you may think make your life complete, but when you feel a moment has completed your day. And once you find those moments, and fill them with happiness, you'll never have another question you need to find. When you learn to love yourself and God, you should spread that love onto others, because that love will never run out. So remember the golden rule, do onto others, as you would have them do onto you.

Thank you and I only have one more thing to say before I sit down: it was not a windy day on the day I fell.

"I'm Sticking With God"
Sarah Welsh-Huggins

We are currently in the middle of a horrible affliction. That's right. "The plague of the iPod." Apple is feeding a pandemic that is infecting everyone. I'll admit it. I've become infected with this illness. (hold up iPod) "Isn't it cute?" Don't worry, this disease isn't contagious. Yet, iPods aren't the only symptoms of the consumerism bug, though. Clothes, movies, cars, cell phones, the obsession with these is growing stronger every day. 

Everyone wants something. The problem becomes serious, however, when our desire for materialistic things overcomes our desire for God. Consequently that means that we forget that God loves us, and forgives all of our transgressions and all that implies.  As a teenager, I face the full brunt of this problem. As I see it there is a pressure on teens today, which make it hard for teens with faith, to keep living that way. That pressure is society's push for us to be materialistic. I only have two minutes and, (look at watch) oops, 27 seconds to talk to you, so I'll try to keep this brief.

In my school each morning during homeroom, we watch Channel 1, a news show aimed at helping teens stay informed about current events. I've learned a lot about our world by watching Channel 1. When the commercials come on, however, I always inwardly groan. Almost every ad is based on getting teenagers to buy a new cell phone. Every morning, five days a week, the four hundred students in my school, and thousands in other schools, are told that we need a Cingular cell phone. Do we really need one? Probably not. Are we being told that we should want one? Definitely. In movies, TV shows, computer games, there's no room for God. What we want is instant gratification. Who has time for God, when, as my Dad always jokes, there's so much good stuff on TV.

It's not just TV though. Every morning, to help myself wake up, I need to have the newspaper. Do I stop and check the weather, or see what major world stories are breaking? No. The first thing I do when I have the day's Columbus Dispatch is flip to the Life section and read the comics, and then, yes, the Celebrity gossip. Once I've been entertained, only then to I go back to "real" news stories. How shallow is that? That with all of the terrible, and inspiring things going on in our world, I'd rather see what Bucky the Cat is doing in Get Fuzzy in the comics.

Is God in the comics? I don't know. Do I want to find God? Of course, but how am I gonna stay with Him, when everything that is "cool" for teenagers to like, is not God?

For me, faith is loving and worshipping God. Faith is offering your talents to those in need, in the name of God. For as the scriptures say in James 2:24, "You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone."  Being faithful to God not only means loving God, but loving those that He loves, and forgiving those that He forgives. Faith is when you realize that we are kept alive by our hope and faith in God, regardless of whether we can see evidence of him. The meaning of faith for me, is epitomized in Hebrews 11:1. "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." And following this meaning of faith can be hard when we want so many tangible and concrete things.

But, I'm not saying turn of your TV forever, never shop again, lock yourself in a small, dark room for all eternity so that you can focus your life solely on your faith. No, that's not healthy. No, it's okay to want things, but keeping your faith is important. How can we do that, with the constant pressure to be materialistic? That constant pressure leads us to ignore God.  I've found that if you want to believe in God, and in the Lord's glory and goodness, then there will always be a part of your mind, however small, that is obsessed, not with iPods and that cute shirt at Aeropostle for only $24, no, it's going to be obsessed with God. To keep your faith, you have to want to do so. That's why I love coming to this church, because I know that here, I'll be supported in keeping my faith.

Coming to church helps me to remember why I have faith in the Lord, not my iPod. However much I would like to bow down and worship the makers of this glorious device, that small piece of my mind that remembers how good the Lord is, says, worship God first. God's going to around a lot longer than your iPod, or that Mini Cooper, or any of those things that you want today. Stay with God, practice living your faith. Until my iPod can show me love and forgiveness, I'm sticking with God.

Copyright 2006, The First Congregational Church