Sylvania United Church of Christ
Claimed by God, Responding as Disciples
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The sermon for week May 22, 2011

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YOUTH SUNDAY!
The scriptures (read by Sheila Banerji) are 1 Peter 2:2-10 and John 14:1-14

Reflection by Alec Ritzert: I have had the honor of growing up and being confirmed in this church, just as my dad was. My grandparents have been longtime members as well. I have seen their dedication to so many parts of our church.

Because of my family’s faith and tradition, I have been raised with Christian values. Confirmation class has made me see how important these values and the teachings of Jesus are.

Attending church and volunteering has taught me to be respectful of people, to be helpful, and kind, especially when folks are going through tough times.

In our confirmation classes, I learned through different games and interactions how faith and values don’t just exist in church. They are applied to situations everywhere.

I will remember what I have learned throughout this experience. I know as I grow up, I will have my faith to help me make decisions. Maybe someday my kids will be lucky enough to grow up in Sylvania UCC too.

Reflection by Logan Hubbard: All of us can relate to things that impact us, the people around us, and our religious beliefs as Christians. One thing that has impacted me strongly most over the years is our family’s Christmas pageant. Since I can remember, the children in our family have reenacted the Christmas story . From Joseph and Mary to the wise men and shepherds and angels in the fields, my Nana would have a role for all to play. Scriptures would be read and the story of Jesus being born would be told. The pageant shows me of the strong beliefs of my family and keeps inspiring me to continue my religious journey in Confirmation and onwards.

Reflection by Eliza Ehlen: Our faith says that everyone should work together to help make the world a better place for you, your neighbors, and for generations to come. Our faith also says to look to God for help in finding answers to our problems about personal issues, or worldwide issues. It diagnoses the problem, but it’s our job to find the solution with the help of God. He helps us to find the solution to a problem by the ideas of others, through supplies and resources you can find around you, by maybe speaking to you through a dream, and so much more.

Our faith calls us to live in this world by wanting to do whatever it takes to fulfill God’s word, to make the world as he planned it to be. His plan could be found in the Bible, or shown through world events. For example, natural disasters. Natural disasters show the opposite of what God wants the Earth to look like, but they show how he wants people to help one another out, even if they cannot speak the same language.I, personally, agree with God’s plan, and believe it can eventually be achieved.

Reflection by Adam Zonner: About 3 years ago I met a pastor Cheri Holdridge who was starting a church called the Village church, We participated by passing out fliers door to door inviting the neighborhood to the Village’s Easter service which was to be held at a park. The following summer I marched in the Old West end parade carrying a Village banner and passing out invitations. I really didn’t know what this church would be like. I imagined it to be kind of like this church and some others I attended. About 1 ˝ years ago they opened the church on Central and Monroe street in Toledo in a old building that looks like a coffee shop. When I walked in I was stunned. When I arrived people were walking around eating breakfast, drinking coffee and talking. They had guitars and drums that brought life to the service. The service lasted about 45 minutes. I observed the church community while visiting and learned right then, even though it doesn’t look like a typical church, God’s was there and so was his love. There was a diverse group of people including people of color, LGBT’s and people who appeared to have much less material things then I. You really would not imagine this to be a church, but I think it is a good example of a church because it shows me that God’s children includes everybody and it doesn’t matter what the building looks like either.

I learned over the past few years through Sylvania UCC and the Village church that faith is not just from learning about God in Sunday School, but about serving him by serving the community. I have had several experiences, for example feeding the homeless, and helping out others in need of help. I enjoy going to both the Village and Sylvania UCC to experience the different styles of worship. Basically I feel God’s presence is everywhere and we are all God’s people.

Refection by Troy Finch: When I read this scripture passage, I was first confused. Like the TV hit “Lost” sometimes you just sit back and go “what?!”. But as I read it over a few more times, it dawned on me that Jesus when Jesus is saying “ If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him." ,he is referring to the Trinity-which is still pretty confusing, I mean how can Three be One. Then I saw how Philip questioned the Lord in saying ”show me the Father” and he would be satisfied, but can you really be satisfied by seeing the Lord even though he’s standing right in front of your face? I mean Jesus is trying to give these people hospitality and show them the way and they got confused and took it out of proportion, like me when I read it. Then in the verse after Philip’s questions, verses 9-14, Jesus goes into an explanation about how the Father lives in Him and he will do whatever you ask of him because he wants to be glorified for his Father. Now if you are still wondering where the meaning or truth lies in this passage of the Bible, I believe it is in the confusion between Philip and Thomas. Because of their confusion, Jesus explains the meaning that My Father, your father, the Almighty God lives in him as HE DOES IN ALL OF US. So if you get confused it’s OK because the true meaning is right in front of your face and God is also watching your back. Amen.

Reflection by Jacob Long:This scripture starts with Jesus saying “Do not let our hearts be troubled”. It reminded me of my confirmation scripture.

For confirmation, we were asked to choose a scripture to read. I chose 2 Thessalonians, chapter 3 verse 3 which is “The Lord is Faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.” I like this passage because it puts a lot of questions and thoughts in my mind.

First I thought it was interesting that it says the Lord is faithful. I had heard that before but I hadn’t really thought about it until now. I looked up the word “faithful” and it used the synonym “devoted”. That puzzled me again. What is the LORD devoted to? Isn’t the LORD the highest? I came to the conclusion that the Lord is faithful to us, Mankind. Looking at the rest of the passage, with my new gained knowledge, I gained a better understanding of the Lord’s faithfulness. I think that the passage says “because the Lord is devoted to you, he will protect you”. I believe that Man and God are equally faithful to one another, but the Lord has the power.

The relationship between Lord and Man is, I believe, similar to one you may have with a pet, except YOU get to be the one with the power. You give it everything, you keep it safe and it praises you in return. You praise the animal as well, when it does something good. As I watch my brother pet out cat, I wonder if he, the cat, considers that he is getting praise from HIS master and feeling protected and loved. In the same way we get protection from our Lord, God, and our hearts do not need to be troubled.

Reflection by Pastor Luke: John 14 is the start of the farewell discourse. From Chapter 14 to chapter 17 Jesus is telling his followers about their lives after he’s gone. He tells them “In my father’s house there are many rooms… I am going there to prepare a place for you.”

This is a very comforting thing to say. Many Christians have really lifted this up as the central theme of the Gospels and of the entire bible. They aren’t wrong. Yet they may have missed a more important part of Jesus’ ministry. Jesus had already prepared a place for them in this world. Jesus had already called them, named them as disciples, taught them that they were children of God, that they were agents of healing and reconciliation in the world. To know Jesus was to know God.

Bill has been here 25 years. That’s no small things. His death is hard for us, all of us, those of us who knew him mere months, and those of us who knew him much longer. Don’t let your grief shift your focus though. He has prepared this community, this place, this church to be disciples. To be children of God; agents of healing and reconciliation to the world. To know Bill was to know the one whom he served.

He is now in God’s house and is preparing a place for us; but don’t miss this place. Don’t miss these people sitting next to you. This is God’s house here and here there are many rooms. There is room here. Room for your grief, your joys, your concerns, your doubts and questions, your faith. There is room here because you and Bill have structured this place that way. May we continue on in his spirit. AMEN.

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