Monday, February 09, 2009

Finding our way home

The reflection below was written and shared by Emily Hill, member of the Christian Church of Birmingham/Central Woodward Christian Church Youth Group as part of a youth led worship service at Central Woodward Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). It is a wonderful reflection, which I would like to share with you.

Dr. Bob Cornwall
Pastor

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Luke 15:11-32

Hi. For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Emily, and I’m a junior in high school. Let me explain to you what being a junior in high school implies. It means a heavy academic schedule. A load of extracurriculars. ACT and SAT prep classes. College visits and research. Late nights. A reduced social life. The beginning step of your future. And while not necessarily everything I just said applies to all high school juniors, it’s not uncommon that two or three of them would.

Recently at my school we had our finals week. It was a week of hectic studying and last minute cramming. I had a few late nights that week, and it made me wonder some things. Like, why is life so difficult? We only have one shot at it, so why aren’t we trying to make the best it possibly could be? Why is it that people stick with their dead end nine-to-fives? Why is it that we spend our childhood and adolescence chomping at the bit to grow up, but then when we finally do get some responsibilities, we want to go to when we didn’t? And most importantly, when did we abandon our passions?

We tire so much of our daily duties, but yet accept them blindly. I don’t so much question my teachers assigning me six or seven hours of homework anymore. I just accept it as a responsibility to my academic career. In doing so however, I think I lose my way. I think that I forget that I’m only 16 and that life has so much more to offer than just homework and tests. And while I’m grateful for my opportunity at an education, sometimes I think that people get wrapped up in trying to be the best. It’s still so hard to be who you are, so we play these parts because the show must go on. We become so engulfed in preparing for the future, that we fail to live in the present. I wonder what this world has become, that we now start the rest of our lives in our adolescent years.

It is my belief that children are sent out into the world the same way that soldiers are sent into war. The world has become a harsh formality of competition. People do things that they’re not proud of just to get ahead. There’s this imaginary notion that hardships and pain are beautiful and can be used as devices of healing. Some people find it poetic and romantic. They find that suffering through something can lead to some grand revelation about life. In that time however, they fail to live their life, and they cease to believe the good in life. But those are the same people who declare love to be an option, or something to be handled with caution. But the day that you shun love and the greater things in life is the day that a part of you deceases.

So at this point you’re probably thinking why is a 16 year old standing up here telling me about things that are probably way beyond her years? She’s only a teenager; she probably hasn’t even seen the brute of it yet. And you’re probably right, I haven’t seen the worst of it, but there are some days that I’ve felt pretty low. Those days when the work piled up and I felt tired and trapped and like it wasn’t worth it anymore. I wondered what I was doing, and I wanted to come home.

After I read this last Sunday at CCB, a woman came up to me after the service and started tell me how she thought I was overreacting to the whole situation. She said to simply look at it from the perspective that I was investing in my future. Well she may be right; I am investing in the future. But when are some of those investments going to pay off? And when will the future become the present? Some of those “investments” that I’m making right now will never pay off. For example, I sit in pre-calculus for 90 minutes every other day learning about things that I will probably never need to know beyond a test. I will never find the skill of being able to graph imaginary numbers in rectangular form on an argand diagram useful. They’re imaginary numbers, and as far as I’m concerned, I live in the real world and use real numbers in my everyday life. Why does a teenager like me need to know that?

So what does this have to do with the prodigal son? Well, the truth is I think we do become lost along our journey in life. We yearn to see what’s out there. We’ll stand vigilant until we do. We want to measure ourselves against others. We want to get out and explore in hopes of finding something better, and we do get out there. We may find fortune and love, or we may find destruction and heartache. If it’s the latter, we’ll adopt the expression, “home is where the heart is”. And there’s nothing wrong with that, because there will always be someone or something that welcomes us when we return with crushed hopes and deflated spirits. Sometimes I think we forget that there’s always a place that we can go home to. We’re so determined to seek out pleasure and success that we don’t want to go home and admit our failures, but at the end of the day, that’s where we’ll be accepted and welcomed. It’s where our light can shine and mingle with the light of others. While we may not be thrown a party, we can ensure that as long as we’re happy and content in our minds, everything else just might fall into place, and even if it doesn’t, at least we’re reconciled with ourselves. When that happens, it makes it easier for us to see the more optimistic side of life, and we can also encourage others to do so too. So I think that if we can find what makes us warm inside, or something that makes our light shine bright, we could save the world. I know I’m only 16, and I know that I still retain some innocence, but I truly believe that there’s something out there for all of us. If we happen to fail, we can always take solace in our family, friends, passions, because those will hold on indefinitely. I believe in mankind. I believe in our ability to change and save the world. The light is what brings us home, and we need to let our light shine to guide others, and in doing so, we’ll find ourselves.
Preached by:
Emily Hill
Member, Congregational Church of Birmingham/Central Woodward Christian Church
Youth Group
February 8, 2009

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