Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Songs from Jeff Street

Monday, August 10, 2009

Yewt Sunday!

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Yewt Sunday

MTR Riley Sarah
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
The Youth of our church led the service today. Many of them have recently returned from Summer Camp at Unidiversity, which is a program we've been participating in for about 16 years now. Our very own Sarah and Riley co-wrote the sermon - here it is!

So, how many of you guys have seen High School Musical? For those of you who haven’t seen it, the basic plot is that the hot shot basketball star, Troy, spends most of his year practicing for the championship. That is, until he meets Gabriella, and they unintentionally try out for the upcoming spring musical.

He then decides that he doesn’t want to be just the basketball star anymore, he wants to sing. Like all other generic Disney movies, Troy finally realizes that he can’t keep being who his Dad wants him to be; he needs to go where his heart and voice leads him.

On a note that doesn’t include Disney Channel Movies, recently several of the youth of our church attended Unidiversity, which is described as discipleship training for teens. Starting at the beginning of the week we were guided to find our true identities and instructed on how to not give in to conformity and to show our individuality. It was made very clear that we were all formed in God’s image, to be as we are.

Ten minutes after we arrived in Longwood, Virginia we were shown a video of two of the administrators greeting some of the fellow churches with a red carpet, microphone, and camera, pretending that they were interviewers and the students were movie stars. They asked questions such as “Who are you wearing, what are you here for, etc.” We were also instructed to write three facts about ourselves on a card, along with our name and church. At this point we were disappointed in the fact that this was what the week had in store for us. During the video, Riley even turned to me and said “There better be a point to this.” And there surely was.

The next morning our preacher for the week, Erin, introduced the theme. She entered the stage inquiring “Who has my identity? Do you?” After a while of searching for an answer, to no avail, she found a suitcase she referred to as her identity. She then proceeded to take out all the things in the suitcase which she used to define herself. The things she pulled out included magazines, make up, a flat screen TV, a couple of DVD’s, and other assorted miscellaneous items. When the suitcase was completely empty, she asked everyone in the audience “Who are you without all the accessories?
Who are you beyond the image?”

At the end of that service, we received a paper that had a list of ways that people have come to define themselves. This list included “you are what you eat”, “you are what you wear”, “you are a city/country kid”, “you are your parents’ child”, “you are a teenager”, “you are what you have” and “you are what you do”. We were given this sheet with the instructions to find a quiet spot to think about it. I thought this was a good way to get us thinking about ourselves. I realized that a lot of how we define ourselves is based off of other objects, people, interests, and beliefs.

We then realized how many of the people at Unidiversity defined themselves by their choice in electives, seminars, and cliques. We began to see the way most teenagers think of it all on the small scale of Undiversity: the jocks are in the athletic electives, the preppy girls are in photography, the dorks are in the cooking electives, and the skater boys are in the music electives. In addition to this, after about the first day many people had formed into their own groups. A couple people from each church would mingle together, and they stuck with each other for the rest of the week to form their own cliques.

About a year ago, I read a book called The Secret Life of Devon Delaney. To sum it up, there is a girl, Devon Delaney, who is basically an outcast. So, to deal with this she conforms to fit in and, although unsuccessful, she lies to her cousin, Lexi, about how she’s in with the popular crew (one of which she had a crush on.) So, you could have imagined her horror when her cousin transferred to her school. Within a day, Lexi was hanging out with the popular crew and within a month she was dating Devon’s crush, Jared. This is one example of lying to make yourself feel better about your true social status, which, particularly in school, is a big part of who you are. In the end, she ends up confessing to Lexi that she lied, after she can no longer hide the fact. She informs her cousin of who she really is, and how she doesn’t quite fit in. And you know what? Lexi likes her anyways, and is glad she finally told the truth about her identity.

Because of the week we spent at Unidiversity we now think about how we respond when we’re asked who we are. Instead of saying our name, city, age, and interests, we think more about what we’re passionate about, how we spend our spare time, and what makes us happy. Hopefully, Unidiversity has taught us to love each other more fully as people of God and to think about the people around us, the relationships we share with them, and how both sides are affected by the relationship.

Riley and I are both shamefully big Facebookers, as some of you might have seen, and one of the most popular applications seems to be taking the quizzes, and spending as much time in Walgreen’s as we do, we’ve noticed a common link between the Facebook quizzes and the ones you find in magazines for adolescents. In the quizzes you are asked four to eight questions about things varying from what your favorite color is to what the first letter of your name is to what you would do if your best friend liked your crush. When the quiz is finished, they label you with things like “loyal friend”, “jock”, “passionate kisser”, or even“75% black”. They then include a blurb about what a person with this title does.

People seem to really like these quizzes, probably because they define you, so you don’t have to find ways to define yourself. Sometimes, that’s a lot easier than being who you are, especially with the conformity issues at most schools. It’s hard for many people to grasp that all we can really do is be who we are and just hope that we can find people that love us anyway.

In the book of Romans, it states

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you; take your everyday, ordinary life – your sleeping, eating, going to work, walking around life – and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t be so well adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking, instead fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily, recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well formed maturity in you. (From The Message version)

At the end of the later Tuesday service, we were told to rip up the cards on which we had written the three facts to define ourselves, and we were given new, fresh cards to represent a clean slate. Unidiversity helped us to find, like Troy, that because we were in fact created in God’s image, it’s less important to be who society wants you to be than who you are, because who you are is exactly who God wants you to be.