Youth Sermon
October 9th, 2016

By Naomi Kinnamon and Jack Ottinger

Faith, Gratitude, Gratefulness and Thanks...


Youth Sermon - December 13th, 2015

Maya: I’m black. 

Natalie: I’m white. 

Maya: I have brown eyes.

Natalie: I have blue eyes. 

Maya: I have brown hair.  

Natalie: I have red hair. 

Maya: We are so different what could we possibly have in common? 

Natalie: There are many obvious physical differences between Maya and I. Most people look at someone and immediately make a snap judgement based on what that person looks like and how they are different from themselves. 

Maya: We quickly recognize the differences between one another, but fail to realize the similarities.

Natalie: We judge one another based on those differences 

Maya: and separate ourselves because of them.

Natalie: According to the Gospel John says to the people that came to be baptized, “You brood of vipers! Do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our ancestor’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham.”

Here, John is not saying that God creates children from stones. Maybe you thought that’s what he was saying, like I did the first time I read this passage. No, he is saying that we   are   all   the   same. John is telling those “brood of vipers” do not use your ancestry of Abraham to put your selves on a pedestal. More simply put he is saying get over yourselves. We   are   all   the   same. This applies to many of us today. We often think we are better than others based on what we have or where we live. We compare Pennington as being better than Trenton. Or our country, as being better than other countries.

Over the summer I went on a mission trip to Honduras. When many people think of Honduras, maybe a few words come to mind such as poor, impoverished, needy, bad economy. As Americans, we see things about their country that we can “fix” or improve.

In the Florida airport, we met other Christian mission groups that were recognizable by their matching “We will save Honduras” T-shirts. They were advertising that Honduras was a place that needed to be fixed, and they were the solution. And my immediate thought was, how arrogant! How arrogant to think that, and advertise that. Those mission groups saw Honduras as different from America, and the way we live, and therefore, thought they had to change it, or fix it. But what we as Americans see as a problem in Honduras, may not be what the Hondurans see as a problem. So what was the difference between our mission group and the other groups we saw? Well, we went not expecting to change things and fix things, but to spend time with the kids, and do what the adults told us they wanted to be done. All the kids wanted, was for us to play with them and to love them.

And isn’t that all what any of us want? I saw first-hand that’s what the kids in Honduras want. I know that is what I want. To be loved and to feel wanted. To be loved isn’t just a desire. It’s a necessity that we as humans require. We are not superior to others because they are different. We do not possess the power, and they are not powerless. We all want to be loved. We   are   all   the    same.  In Honduras, the differences between us and the kids were obvious: age, skin color, language, background. These differences can be considered barriers put between us. But our similarities built the bridges that connected us. We didn’t let a little thing like speaking a different language get in the way of communicating and having fun. You don’t have to speak the same language to laugh. Our similarities of loving the game of Uno, brought us together, even though the kids loved to change the rules when it was most convenient for them. My love and the kids’ love for soccer also brought us closer. The love for the game was the connection that destroyed the barrier of speaking a different language. We were able to ignore the differences, because we loved to enjoy our similarities.

Maya: For all of my life to come people will always recognize the color of my skin before they even begin to think about the content of my character. Many of the things that I may encounter in my coming young adult years, you will never have to encounter simply based on the color of your skin and where you are from. Sadly this also holds true for many of the children in Camden. This past summer I was fortunate enough to join the church on the mission trip to Urban Promise for one week. Although people might say change comes with time, I was changed within that very short period of time.

As soon as we arrived at camp Joy for the first time all of the kids clung to us as if we were long lost friends who haven’t seen each other in ages. The amount of love and joy these kids have is amazing. Yet to others based on where they are growing up or just based on the color of their skin, they are sad, depressed, and lonely and have nobody to look up to because where they come from should reflect who they are. This entire frame of mind is incorrect. You can’t pass judgment on a person just based on their geographic position. For that matter why didn’t Jesus only baptize those from certain places even if he knew nothing about them? Because in God's eyes we are the same, no person higher, no person lower. 

Throughout the week it became evident that our mission group was not there to change Camden but to connect with the youth. Due to the color of my skin I had something immediately in common with all of the kids, they were able to look at me and I was able to look and them and think “we aren’t that different”. While in Camden many of the camp counselors who are referred to as “street leaders” began to open up to me and build a bond with me. I remember when we were preparing for the Street Leader Outing one of the girls melody who is 15 like me, asked me “so how long are you interning for” And I then responded “I’m not an intern, I’m with the church group” she started laughing and asked, “seriously,? But you're not white!” I went on to explain to her that i was there because I cared about my people. And that I understand to some extent what it feels like. Unfortunately the only symbol of care or help is white, not even their own people. 

During the Street Leader Outing on Tuesday night I struggled to find a difference between me and the street leaders, we were all around the same age, we were all interested in the new Drake vs Meek Mill rap beef, we were all obsessed with snapchat, we were all in high school. On top of that, we understand how it feels to be black in America, to turn on the TV and see yet another black man or woman killed by someone of “power”. We understand how Mike Brown from Ferguson Missouri could have been one of our friends. We are still waiting for the day where we can be accepted. Be judged by the content of our character rather than the mere difference in melanin of our skin. With all of these connections it felt like I was hanging out with my friends from school for the evening rather than being with a group of teens whom i had just met. You see here, I didn’t say rather than being with a group of teens from Camden, because what does it mean to be a group of teens from Camden? I mean we are all teens so why should it matter where we are from?

Natalie: So I challenge you to stop making snap judgments about people. Take yourselves off of your pedestals and get on the same level. 

Maya: Stop and take a moment to view people from God’s eyes.

Natalie: You’d be amazed because everybody is viewed the same.

Maya: No person higher.

Natalie: No person lower.

Maya: As you go on through this week, think about what you have in common with somebody rather than a difference.

Natalie: Train your mind to think beyond the obvious differences and deeper into the true character of others. 

Maya: Unfortunately for now our society will always view others as:

Maya: I’m black. 

Natalie: I’m white. 

Maya: I have Brown eyes.

Natalie: I have Blue eyes. 

Maya: I have brown hair.  

Natalie: I have red hair. 

Maya: We are so different what could we possibly have in common?

Both: Amen.