New Beginnings

November 18, 2018

Series: November 2018

Category: Confirmation Class

Speaker: Youth Group

Charlie – Job 12:7-8

“Ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you.”

 As many of you may or may not know, I am an avid horse rider on a competitive show jumping team. If any of you have some knowledge about horses, you’ll know that they are amazing animal with incredible intelligence, and they can teach you many important things. I’ve been riding for eight years, and so I think it’s safe to say that I know a good amount about horses. One lesson in particular that I’ve learned from my horse, Rhett, is trust. Being put on a ginormous, two thousand pound horse can sometimes be intimidating, as I’m sure most of you all will agree with. But as I spent time feeding him, and caring for him, and all the other very time consuming and energy draining responsibilities that come with a horse, I gained something that made all those tasks worth it. I gained a friendship, a special bond between my horse and I that no one else had. It was unique to us. I could simply look at him, and know exactly how he’s feeling, and he could do the same for me. This is the beauty of the animals that God has created for us. When I am in the presence of nature, like up on mount tam, or with my horse on a foggy morning, and very early morning, I feel a sense of calmness and peace wash over me. This is a feeling of and balance. This feeling is present because of God’s gift to us.

 I find that in this passage, each component can be related to this church, and how it has guided and helped us to this moment. Job begins by saying, “Ask the animals, and they will teach you”. The animals can connect to Rob, Bethany, and Jeff, who have led us and taught about our faith and all about what it means to be apart of this church, Job continues, “The birds in the sky, they will tell you”. These birds can describe what you all, the church members, have done to support us through our journey to be confirmed. You all have watched us grow up, and now we are becoming part our church officially as members, we are becoming members. When Job tells us, “speak to the earth, and it will teach you”, I believe that this can relate to our greatest, ultimate teacher, God. God always wants us to grow, to learn, and to better ourselves, and we do this by learning from God. Job finishes by saying, “Let the fish in the sea inform you”. The fish can relate to our generous confirmation guides, who taught us and embarked on this journey with us, every step of the way.

 So whether it be the animals, the birds in the sky, the earth, or the fish in the sea, take a moment to think to yourself about something specific from this gift of nature from God that has taught you something. It may be your dog, your cat, a place like the beach, or maybe even your horse. Think about this specific thing and bring to mind a lesson it has taught you. All these places and animals that we are all thinking about are presents of God, and so by learning from them and having connections with them, we are strengthening our relationship with God.

 As I finish up, I encourage each and every one of you to try and find all the moments in life where you are in the presence of nature. Think to yourself about how you are connecting to God. Be in the moment and appreciate the gift God has given us.

Sophia – Isaiah 43:18-19

The Bible quote I chose to talk about is from Isaiah 43: 18-19. It says, “Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old. I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”

This quote takes place when the Israelites were in captivity. They were suffering and thought God had abandoned them. And this quote was God’s response. The Israelites were scared. They had lost faith. All seemed hopeless. But God spoke to them and calmed their fears. And eventually, the Israelites were set free.

 Often, we feel like the Israelites (but hopefully not as extreme). We feel that our situation is hopeless. There’s nothing we can do. We feel that God has abandoned us. It’s so easy to feel this way. Honestly, our world is suffering. There are so many people in poverty, affected by violence, hurt in ways we can’t even imagine. The air we have been breathing this past week has been a constant reminder of the homes and lives taken by the fires.

 I remember a saying someone told me: “Happiness rarely makes the headlines”. So while we need to acknowledge and educate ourselves and know about the sufferings in this world, we need to remember the bright sides. Humans are incredibly resilient. We often forget the inspiring people who work so hard to make our world better. We have firefighters and rescue workers, risking their lives to go save people. We have activists helping bring awareness to all sorts of causes. We have people in this church who go to marches and organize drives and even just bring a meal to someone in need.

 We are lucky in this community. We have our share of hurt and sadness but we also have been blessed by God to live in such a beautiful place with such amazing people.

The next song we will hear in a few minutes is one of my favorites, called Oceans. One of my favorite lines says (about God), “Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me, You've never failed and You won't start now.”

 This line reminds me of one time when I was swimming at the beach with my family when I was young. There was a deep drop-off and we were swimming right above it. Suddenly, a wave hit us and pushed me down underwater. I couldn’t feel the bottom. I couldn’t see anyone around me. I was pushed underwater, not sure if I was going to be able to make it up. I was so scared at that moment at my lack of control. I had come into contact with power that I had never encountered before. My feet were failing. I was surrounded by my fear. I didn’t drown. Eventually the wave passed and I swam back up to the surface. Now, I love swimming. The water is one of my favorite places to be. This experience now reminds me that you can’t let negative experiences keep you from doing what you love.

 We have to remember that God is always with us. As teens, we’re often stressed out because we feel a lot of pressure. We’re so scared to fail. I mean, I’m scared sharing this sermon right now, to be honest. But as we enter a new stage in our life at this church and in our faith, we have to remember that God is with us, even when we get knocked down by waves. He will make a way in the wilderness of our fear and rivers of love in our desert.

 We invite you to take a moment to think about your own experiences, as we play the song “Oceans” by Hillsong United.

 Abby – Jeremiah 29:11

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

The Lord has plans for me, for you, for everyone, even if they don’t realize it. How comforting a thought, to know that whatever you’re doing right now was meant to happen. Even if things don’t seem great right now, just know that they are part of your story. They will influence your character and identity, shaping you to be the person you are today and who you will become. These events will teach you about the world and yourself, providing you with lessons that will guide you throughout the rest of your life.

 Such events could be so simple and completely ordinary that you wouldn’t have given them a second thought at the time. But who you are is defined by your response to these events and who you choose to be. I don’t know about you, but I’m choosing to be understanding, to be kind, to be active and positive. I’m choosing to be passionate about the things I love doing, without caring about others’ judgment. I’m choosing to be me.

 And really, who am I? Who are you? Or more importantly, who are you aspiring to become? Let me answer the first question for you, and you can decide on the answer to the others. I’m a person who’s creative, energetic, quirky, and pedantic. I love to use my imagination to draw, paint, dance, and sing and just live. I love to be artistic and try new baking recipes even if they what they make doesn’t always taste good.

 One of my favorite things to be is a reader, diving deep down into a book and losing myself in it. A book gives you a way to escape the outside world and to ignite your imagination. Now imagine that your life is a book, filled with all the twists and turns and obstacles to overcome. The beginning is when you’re born and the end is when you pass away, but what’s in the middle? That’s the question. What will you do with your one wild and precious life? Asked Mary Oliver. And that’s what we try to discover throughout our time here on Earth.

 I’m a ninth grader, barely fourteen years old. I haven’t been alive for very long, at least not compared to others. But I have lived each of those fourteen years always adapting and changing and growing, trying new things and experiencing the world. When I was in middle school, which right now seems like ages have passed even though it was scarcely a year ago, I was comfortable in my life. I could manage the school workload, I had a nice group of friends who I enjoyed hanging out with, life was good.

 Then, the thought of high school began looming over our heads. Suddenly, the school year seemed way too short. I asked myself, is this how much time I have left with these people who have influenced my life in so many ways? What if I never see them again? What if we forget about each other? What if, what if, what if. I didn’t want things to change, at all. I just wanted to continue about my life normally. No matter how hard I tried, I wanted to slow time and just freeze the world as it was. But alas, that was not possible.

 As I graduated, I began to realize that maybe a change, a new beginning, was what I needed. Something to give me some excitement and a challenge. That’s exactly what high school was and is for me. A chance to try something new and be adventurous and bold. I went into the beginning of the year not knowing what to expect, not quite open-minded but not entirely closed off to the idea of a change like I was before. As it turns out, it was a good idea. Not everything will be, but you should always get in the mentality of being open-minded.

 So now I ask you, “Will you be open-minded to change and new beginnings? After this chapter of the book that is your life, what will you do next? Will you take that step forward, towards the future and the rest of your life?


Thank you, Abby. First of all, I’d like to congratulate my fellow confirmed classmates. There’s no one I’d rather be up here with, and it’s incredible to watch this service take place as a result of all our hard work. Second, I’d like to thank Bethany, Jeff, all of our guides, and anyone who assisted in this process. It would be impossible to do this without you. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, we are all eternally grateful for your dedication and counseling.

Speaking of this coming Thursday, there’s so much I have to be thankful for: my loving family, amazing friends, this beautiful home, all my blessings. I’m thankful for the opportunity to be speaking in front of all of you: the chance to be up here, partaking in a ceremony I’ve grown up watching. And of course, I’m thankful for God’s love: an unwavering force that has touched all of us in this room.

From Lamentations 3:22-24, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. God’s mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” No matter the circumstances, God loves us. Every morning, no matter what, he gives us mercy. Each time you wake up. A clean slate, with the constant of his love. A new beginning. There’s another beginning that He gives us, however. He loves us and forgives us. He changes our lives, as Abby touched upon earlier, but He also gives us the power to change our own, even in a tiny way.

 After all, life is filled with choices. Big ones: should you take that job? Should you move out of your house? But there are also those little decisions, choices at every instant. When you step out of this room, if you want to, you can start eating healthier, to reach out to that one family member you never seem to see. To clean that closet or dedicate more time to prayer. To go to sleep earlier, tell someone you love them, sign up for a marathon. To take a few seconds out of the day to think about what you’re grateful for. At any moment of time, we have a chance to choose our path.

Isn’t that beautiful? That idea that we can forge our own beginnings. That with God, we can make our own path. That to be kind, to be healthy, to be grateful, is based on the choices you make. As Aristotle once said, “we are what we repeatedly do,” and if we repeat them, even the simplest actions can have a big impact. God will send you help, God will send you challenges and force you to grow, but your choices are what define you, not those circumstances.

 In the end, it comes down to who you want to be. I want to be kind, successful, healthy, happy. So I make choices that help me achieve those goals. I reach out to people I don’t know, I study, I cut out sugar every lent, I thank God for my blessings. What about you? Who do you want to be? Because truly, that’s up to you.

 So be thankful for the opportunities God has granted you, and take advantage of them to better yourself. Choose who you want to be and devote your time to pursuing that vision. Forge your own beginnings.