5/5/2019 – Youth Sunday – Seniors Sermons by Mattie Tindall and Meagan Coumo

Introduction:

Good morning. My name is Mattie Tindall. I am a senior at Fort Defiance High School and I am planning to attend Hollins University in the Fall to study theatre.

Anecdotes:

Out of all of the scholarships, committee, and volunteer forms I’ve had to fill out over the years, I practically have my faith journey memorized. I consider myself very lucky when it comes to my faith. I was born into a religious family and have been attending church ever since I was born. As some of you know, before moving here, my dad worked at Asbury United Methodist Church, which is actually where I first became a member. For the first half of my life, I was split between here and there-alternating churches every Sunday. I remember being in elementary school and waiting in my dad’s office playing with Sam while Dad had youth group and wanting so badly to finally get into middle school so I could play games with the older kids and sing in the choir and be a part of the drama group. I finally became a youth. And it was amazing. I made great friends, and I looked forwards to the days when I got to go to youth group. Then, when I was in 7th grade, everything changed. My dad told me he felt a calling to move here and work with the youth at this church. I was devastated. At that point in my life, I hadn’t made the best friends here that I have today. All I knew was that I would be leaving some of my very best friends behind and I didn’t understand why. I might have been young, but I was angry. I was angry because I didn’t understand how God could take me away from the place that I felt him the most.

For the first year that he was here I felt out of place, and if I’m being honest I can look back now and say it was because I was stubborn. I was scared that if I let myself truly become a part of the church I would be replacing the experiences and friends that I had at Asbury. During my 8th grade year I got over myself. I allowed myself to become friends with people who I am now proud to say are my best friends. But something still felt off. I still didn’t feel like I truly belonged.

Finally, I graduated middle school and became a high school freshman. As I came to church, I noticed there were more and more families in Open Door with young children that were too old for the nursery but too young to sit through the service. When I was younger, we had children’s church, but unfortunately that ended as we grew older. I decided I wanted to start it back up. April had just became our pastor and I’m still worried that I scared her a little because I brought this up with her within the first week of her transition. I couldn’t help it… I was so excited! Thankfully, my idea got approved. I started working. I made announcements, I made up lesson plans, and I found volunteers. And then, the first Sunday came. And it was amazing. Walking out of church that day I knew I was where I belonged. I cannot express the joy that children’s church has brought me through the years. I remember we used to give out little bible cards if the kids came back the next Sunday with their verses memorized. One day, Tripp Coyner came with his memorized so I gave him a card. He couldn’t read yet, so he came running up to me and said “Mattie! Mattie! Can you tell me who this is?” It warmed my heart that he was so enthusiastic and curious and wanted to learn more. I love watching the kids grow, not only physically, but spiritually. And I love how they want to learn.

After that moment, I knew my faith was stronger. I really invested myself in the church and made lifelong friends, however, little did I know that an even bigger spiritual step was to come.

This past semester has been incredibly difficult for me. Without going too much into it, there were some times when I didn’t want to get out of bed in the morning, much less go to school. i . felt. Awful. However, this past month especially, I have done a lot of healing. I surrounded myself with friends and family. I sang and danced like nobody was watching. And I turned to God. I prayed constantly. I understood the songs we sang in Hearts of Praise on a deeper level. And now, here I am, feeling stronger in my faith than I ever have been. That being said, I still can have some bad days, however, I know that I can come to God with all of it and he will be there for me every time.

Scripture:

Jeremiah 29:11 says “‘For I know the plans I have for you’, declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”

Meat:

I don’t have a clue what God’s plan for me is. I’m sure that these past couple of months are not the only difficult months I’ll ever have. I know that I have a lot of growing to do, spiritually, mentally, but unfortunately, not physically. However, in the journey to find out who I am I am also finding out whose I am. I am God’s. I can come to him with everything and he will be there for me. You are God’s. You can come to him with everything and he will be there for you. We are all children of God, no matter how broken or weak we are. Just like the skit you saw, it doesn’t matter if you are having school or work pressure, if you have an illness, if you are depressed or bullied, you are a Child of God.

A couple of weeks ago in bible study, we talked about Adam and Eve. One of the biggest point we discussed was how men and women were portrayed. We often read that story and come out of it thinking that Man is superior and Woman is just an afterthought, put on this earth to be his “helper”. I was slightly offended, to say the least. However, as we often do during bible study, as we went deeper into the story we realized that wasn’t quite the intention. After Adam is created, God gives him all of the animals on the earth to be whatever he wants: a companion, a laborer, or food. But, Adam isn’t satisfied. Thus, God created woman. Eve was not created to serve Adam, Eve was created to complete him. We need each other just as we need God. We need these relationships to grow and help us reach our full potential. I have found a lot of those relationships here.

Perhaps as I was telling my faith journey you heard some of your own story, or you saw some of your own struggles in our skit. You heard of the struggles, of the joys, and of the enlightenments. There will no doubt be more struggles and joys in our faith, because God is not finished with us yet. He never is. God never sits back, puts up his feet, and says “I’m done.” You may graduate from high school, you may retire from your job, you might even stop coming to church. You can’t, however, graduate from being a Child of God.

Conclusion:

As you leave church today I encourage you to think about how you have found yourself throughout your life and write it in the insert that came with your bulletin. What events have shaped who you are? What events have strengthened your faith? What events have shook your faith? What people have influenced you? Who was there for you when you were dealing with difficult things, and who was there to celebrate with you when you overcame them? And, most importantly, as you walk out of here today, know that no matter what you answered to those questions, you ARE a Child of God.

Introduction: Good morning, everybody. My name is Meagan Cuomo. I am graduating from Waynesboro High School this year, and I will be going to Mary Baldwin University next year.

Anecdote: If I’m going to be honest with everyone, I didn’t think I would be doing this right now, but God’s plan for me just happened to be something that I wasn’t expecting at all. Six months ago I thought I had another year of high school after this year, but here I am, preaching my senior sermon to the congregation on Youth Sunday. I consider this to be a huge, yet unexpected, blessing. I’m just going to be straightforward with you; high school has not been a great experience for me. I have not had great social experiences in my high school. I don’t quite fit into the cliques, and kids have sometimes treated me poorly. This year has been a bit different though. I have been attending SVGS and taking many online classes to finish my degree.

Mostly everybody says that junior year is the hardest year of school. Academically, I agree, especially since I took my Junior and Senior year together. (My parents call me a Jenior.) Without church events and prayer, I don’t know if I would be graduating right now. Out of all of the church-related activities that I participate in, Bible study has had the biggest impact on me. There is a fairly small group of high schoolers who attend Tuesday night Bible study, but it couldn’t be a better group of people. Although I haven’t been at Westminster for a very long time, I have learned so much each week from Mr. Tindall and the other teens. This time together is truly a blessing, and we all learn so much about different topics every week. Every part of Tuesday evenings, including the weekly grapes, is a good mental break from school work.

The first church service I ever came to at Westminster was on New Year’s Day of my freshman year. I was a little bit hesitant to go because I only knew one or two people in the church. Mr. Tindall was actually leading worship this day. In the service, Mr. Tindall’s sermon included having everybody close their eyes and point to a random verse in the Bible. I thought that was pretty cool. Within the next few weeks, we became regular attendees of the Red Door service, and I started being asked to go to youth group and other youth activities. Nobody knows this, but I was strongly against participating at first. I didn’t know anyone, and I wasn’t interested in meeting new people. It wasn’t anything against them, I was just having a rough year and didn’t want anyone to be in my life at the time. I eventually went to my first event, which was the Super Bowl party at the Crawford’s house. I left thinking that it was fun, but I wasn’t convinced to go to regular youth group yet. I did eventually start going regularly, and I ended up making so many new friends. They have all collectively helped me to become a more open person, both with people and with God.

Scripture: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”

Meat:

A lot of unexpected things happen in life. Examples include the following: moving, car accidents, tsunamis, illness, injury, or death; on a more positive side: a job promotion, a proposal, getting accepted into college, getting a scholarship, or winning the lottery. Sometimes they are good and sometimes they are not. Think about when Mary found out that she was going to be the mother of God’s son. These things often feel random to us. This is because God’s plans are not always our plans, and we do not know His plan for us. We only see it as it unfolds.

In the devotional Jesus Calling, the author, Sarah Young, says, “There is no randomness about your life.” As God’s plans for me unfold, I am still figuring out who I am. I don’t think this is something people will figure out by a certain date or time in life. Learning about who we are and growing in God’s love is part of the process of His plans. What I do know about who I am right now is that I am a child of God, and you are too. We can rest on those promises through all of life’s unexpected events.

In conclusion, let us remember that nothing is random, that God has a plan for you, and that you are a child of God.

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