Graduating senior Tom Readett gave the homily on Youth Sunday this year.
As I stand here in front of you, I want to take a moment to thank each one of you for helping me to become the person I am today. Church has been so much more to me than just a place of worship. To me it has become a second home a place that I come for my happiest moments and for my saddest moments equally. For that I want to say, “Thank you.”
So I was asked if I wanted to preach this week for our Youth Sunday service. For those of you who know me, you know I would never let a chance to talk when no one can interrupt me pass by. In writing this sermon I had a very hard time trying to find God in my everyday life. Today’s psalm writer seems to have an easier time, saying,
“You [God] trace my journeys and my resting-places *
and are acquainted with all my ways…
You press upon me behind and before *
and lay your hand upon me.”
I think the trouble for us is that God’s presence is so constant, it can be hard to see. For me God is always more present when I walk within these four walls. But then I realize, that God is fully present in my life’s greatest passion, and that is music. I’ve been playing cello for nine years. And for the past year a half I have been playing at Manhattan School of Music with many different kinds of people from many different backgrounds. (I’ll come back to that.)
But first, I have grown up in a different generation than most of you. This is no longer the generation of face-to-face talking and conversation, but of tweeting and texting. The language of who we are has changed. We as a generation have become servants to every vibrate or ding. I have only had a smartphone for a year, and I still find myself checking my phone the instant it buzzes. Now don’t get me wrong: this is not necessarily a bad thing. This technology, this connection, is how we can communicate. Without this connection I would not have best friends who live in other states. Communication in this age has evolved into a constant contact with the people you love, like my friends from music school. We are always available to each other, always only a text away. The problem comes in that we are we such a dependent generation that we are unable to take a break from our technology. We are more concerned with a person’s emoji than the true emotions behind them. Here’s my most used emoji.
Who can tell what emotion this conveys? Not me.
When God created us, God knew there wouldn’t be just one human, but many. We are here to make connections. Our connections with each other are constant, both online and face-to-face, and so is God’s presence. So maybe our connections with each other can show us God’s presence. We can see God’s presence in others, and be God’s presence for them. When we are social, when we smile and connect with all sorts of people, we do what Jesus did. I see this in my own life since I am blessed to be around people of so many backgrounds in music school.
When God called people good in creation, it wasn’t just individuals; it was us as a collective whole. God brought us onto this earth to connect. Jesus taught us that we are not alone, but instead we have one another. I grew up in the Godly Play way, and I will never forgot that parable, the Good Samaritan. Mike Meyer told me that story and then about 8 years later in godly play training I learned it as well. When I sat down and started to learn it, it took on a whole new meaning. It became this story of love: love seen in the connection of the two men. God gave the Samaritan the way to see the man on the side of the road and say “Hello…can I help?” The hurt man wouldn’t have thought that God was present, but the Samaritan showed him God’s constant presence. Remember what the psalms says. It speaks to the idea of God’s hand in life. “You press upon me behind and before and lay your hand upon me.”
I believe that every time we connect God is laying God’s hand on us and guiding us. Some us of connect through technology. Others connect face-to-face. My passion is connecting through music. This is where I find God and where God finds me. So please enjoy an excerpt from the third Bach Cello Suite, the Sarabande.