A Very Slow Sermon

by Molly Diment and Nora Oechslin. This sermon is based on Acts 2:1-21 and John 14:8-17, (25-27).

Good Morning. I’m Molly Diment, and I’m Nora Oechslin, and we’re both very honored to have been asked to speak today at Youth Sunday.

To get started, we’d like to share a few things many of you probably already know about us along with some things most of you probably didn’t know.

You may know that we’re good friends, but you might not know how we met.

We became friends over ten years ago in Godly Play when we were first graders. We loved singing with the guitar and playing with the little people and creatures in the sand box. I remember a little Noah’s Ark and little wooden animals and a rake that I used to make rivers. I had so much fun making the little prophets talk to each other!

You probably know that we’re both high school students, and that we’re both pretty much nerds who have our noses in books and our fingers on keyboards almost every waking hour. Nora attends Robert E. Lee High School in Staunton City, and I go to Buffalo Gap High School in Augusta County. We enjoy school.

You might not know that we are both in the Theatre and Humanities Program at Shenandoah Valley Governor’s School, so that after all these years of being church friends, we also get to be classmates every morning, which has been very fun.  We found out we love so many of the same things from musicals and plays to educational theorists and poets.

Here’s a Fun Fact:

Something we didn’t even know until we found ourselves completely buried in too much college-level work this year–it turns out we both have the same kind of ADD–

–not the ants in your pants, bounce off the walls kind of ADD (not that there’s anything wrong with that),  but for us it’s more like the lost in thought, rich imagination, everything is a priority, can’t keep track of papers to save your life, wonder why everything is harder and takes longer for you kind of ADD.

We’ve each had to learn to pick ourselves up when we fall down–and to laugh it off  when we can–but it’s been nice to lean on each other this year when things feel a bit too impossible. . .

Believe us when we say, it gives us a lot to pray about.

You might know that we both love acting, and you may have seen either or both of us in different plays or musicals over the years, cast in roles like Tweedle Dum, the King of Bohemia, or Flotsam the eel, and , Deputy, a goofy  boy, Grandmother Tzeitl, and the Fiddler on the Roof.

What you may not know is that out of all the shows we’ve been in since middle school we’ve had to cross dress as men 7 times, including 4 times with beards.

You can never say we don’t sacrifice for our craft.

We’re not wearing beards today, but we are wearing red because it’s Pentecost. I think Lucie did a great job with the names of all the tribes and nations. Way to go, Lucie! Molly has some thoughts to share about today’s reading from Acts.

The first thing I thought about when I read the Pentecost story was how amazing it was that all of a sudden everyone could speak and understand one another. I mean, before the Holy Spirit came down no one could understand anyone. It would have been hard trying to communicate anything without getting completely lost. Conversations between people probably took forever because of the differences in language among them. I find this in my own experience when I’m trying to pay attention in class. Sometimes when I can’t understand what is being said, I get distracted by trying to figure out what was actually just said. By the time I’ve figured it out I’m really behind. It’s discouraging not being able to understand what is being communicated,  much like the people the disciples encountered when they tried to spread God’s word.

Sometimes I think God sends help –in the form of people–like my mom and Nora or some other classmate who gets me and knows how to catch me up on what I missed.

Also– and maybe you’ve had this experience too–sometimes something happens to someone else and you’re not quite sure how to respond but then suddenly the right words find you and you end up saying just the right thing. To me, that’s the Holy Spirit at work, and I’m thankful for it everytime it happens.

Now Nora has some thoughts to share about today’s gospel from John:

When I first read the gospel reading from John, I asked Father Paul, “What’s up with Philip?” It seemed like he should have been better at recognizing Jesus and knowing that he was God. Paul told me that Philip really could have been any of the apostles for the purposes of the story, that for a while there Jesus was really working hard to make sure that they all understood the miracle of Easter.  A few things stand out to me from this reading. The first is that sometimes it is hard to see Jesus. Sometimes we are distracted or blinded by fear or anger. Sometimes we all have doubts. That’s just part of growing in faith, I guess. Sometimes we do need reminders to look for Jesus in every person and in ourselves too. I like the part of this reading where Jesus says, “Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do.” That’s something I really love about having grown up at Trinity Church where I’ve always had opportunities to express my faith through doing good works for others.

I also like the part about the Holy Spirit whom Jesus says the Father will send in his name, to teach us everything and remind us of all that he has said to us. The words are, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.” I could use more reminders to find peace in my life and bring peace to others, and this message is a really good one. This is a comforting message.

The Holy Spirit can inspire us to be our best selves. Maybe it’s not as important to remember all ten commandments perfectly all the time as long as we stay focused on loving one another. When we let ourselves feel inspired to extend ourselves in love to others–share our love, time, talent, patience, etc. that is the Holy Spirit at work in us.  It’s our way of living our faith and sharing the good news of Easter and Pentecost through the examples of our daily life as Christ’s disciples.

The Holy Trinity is a part of me. I have to do the work myself, but the Holy Trinity is always with me. I never have to do something alone. One of the ways it makes sense to me is that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are my cheerleaders, or like a hug. They’re there for me when I need them and still there when I think I don’t. Anytime is a good time for a hug.

As Nora mentioned, Trinity has been a great place to explore faith and experience the Holy Spirit working in us. We’ve been so lucky have so many opportunities to work together to help others like making cards for shut ins or cooking for noon lunch or Valley Mission. We’ve both worked in the nursery and have helped with Sunday School. It has been nice being able to hang out with littles (when they listened) and teach little lessons, and see them learning about God on their own. I was at first a bit apprehensive about our trip to visit and do work at the Boy’s Home because I don’t have a ton of guy friends. When working there I met a lot of really cool people and good friends, and we’re glad to have some of them here with us today. Several of us got to help renovate a house for mentally ill folks transitioning to more independent living. The best  thing I remember about this experience was I GOT TO KNOCK A WALL DOWN!!!! It was nice to think that while I was getting tired and thirsty I was also building a new home and a new start for people who really needed it. Even up to this weekend, we’ve enjoyed working on this sermon: It was really cool to be able to share our faith with someone without being forceful. It has also helped me to build my friendship with Nora and get better at writing.

None of these opportunities would have ever happened without the vision and commitment of so many of the adults at this church, so I would like to say something directly to the adults.

I would like to thank every one of you generous, big-hearted, patient, kind, lovely adults for all the crafts and snacks and games and lessons over the years.My goodness, just for all the driving alone, on behalf of all the youth of Trinity, I just really want to thank you so much. We know you are busy and have other things to do, but it has really mattered to us that you have helped us get together and have so much fun together.

On a personal note, I really want to thank the adults of the church for all the times they have helped me. I was really thankful when I was trying really hard to finish my silver award project (an important award in girl scouts) and I was allowed to use the church to work in. For my Silver Award I worked on sewing cat door covers for the Animal Shelter in Lyndhurst. This may sound a little insignificant but it actually helps the cats a lot. It gives them the opportunity  to have a quiet place to hide out in if they get stressed, but it also leaves them some room to be able to see the other cats if they are feeling social. This has been shown to keep the cats healthier and happier which is why it was so great when Trinity gave me the space to be able to work on this project… I’m also really thankful to the church for all the prayers we received when my Dad was sick.

Of course I add my thanks to the adults, but now on behalf of both of us, I’d like to speak directly to the young people here today. There are two main things I’d like to say to you. The first is to make the most of your years at Trinity by participating in as many of the youth events as possible.

Do as much as you can now, because when you get to be a junior in high school, you won’t believe how busy you will be with school-related projects and sports–even if you try to not take on too much. It just happens.

Molly and I wouldn’t trade the years we sang in the Children’s Choir for anything. And after years of making those Advent wreaths in McCracken and bringing cookies to the outreach dinner, I can’t imagine Christmas any other way.

Keep up your friendships with the kids who attend church at Emmanuel. We always have more fun when more of us get together. I encourage you when you are old enough to travel to Roanoke to participate in Youth at Council. I’ve had so much fun with kids from our church and Emmanuel as well as from churches all over the diocese of SWVA.

And when you are old enough to go to Happening, go to that too. I went, and it was so special. It’s kind of a top secret experience, but I’ll just say that if you go, you’ll leave it feeling changed for the better, and that you’ll come home with a new appreciation for your Trinity family.

But even if you are never able to participate in the Diocesan events, I want to encourage you to show up and to contribute as much as you can right here at Trinity. You’ll get a lot out of it, and your participation will contribute to the positive experiences of others.

The second message I have for the young people here is to share something that I’ve come to realize over the years and that is that this is a very welcoming church. We are lucky to have a church family that welcomes and loves everyone. Trinity will give you opportunity after opportunity to extend yourself in love and kindness to people who are hungry or suffering here in Staunton or on the other side of the world. The Episcopal Church Welcomes You is what the sign says out front, and yes it means all kinds of other people walking down the street, but it also really means Me and You. If you have ever felt out of step with your friends or you’re disappointed because you’ve done something really stupid,  or if you are just having a bad day, I recommend coming to church and taking in all the love and acceptance that God and the members of this church have for you. I’ve felt it myself. Molly has too. We are loved here. We have learned to go in peace to love and serve the Lord. And we love all of you.

But don’t worry about us leaving yet! We’re not Seniors, only Juniors! So we still have another year before we have to leave for college. *Both Shudder* Amen!

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