Caroline Luethy’s Youth Sunday Sermon

A Prayer for Every Situation
Seventh Sunday of Easter—Year C
June 2, 2019
John 17:20-26
Guest Speaker: Graduating Senior Caroline Luethy

In today’s gospel reading Jesus prayed for his disciples. Prayer is defined as a solemn request for help or expression of thanks addressed to God or an object of worship. Although this definition isn’t incorrect it is a little impersonal. To me prayer is talking to God, in any capacity. Whether you are talking to God before a big game or talking to God when you are scared to lose someone praying comes in many different forms but there is one prayer that I was taught recently that has stuck with me and it works in almost every situation I can think of.

The past year of my life has been chock full of challenges and opportunities that allowed me to grow in my faith and speak to God on a much more regular basis than I used to. Last spring, I struggled quite a bit and decided to live with my dad. This was a huge change in my life because it meant leaving a hustling bustling home full of siblings and friends to live in a quiet, unfamiliar house with just one other person. This change helped me find the motivation to strengthen my relationship with God. I started getting up every Sunday to go to church and youth group rather than every couple of weeks. I began to study my Bible and grew closer to my friends in my youth group, I realized that making some changes in my everyday life had brought me closer to God.

Once summer began I was totally immersed in God’s hands. I kicked off the summer by going on a pilgrimage with my youth group where we prayed together every morning, before every meal and before we went off to bed.  I spent the rest of my summer as the youngest camp counselor at Camp Wightman, a Baptist summer camp.

Because of my age many of the adult staff who worked underneath the woman who hired me were skeptical of my ability to be a counselor and were not afraid to tell me how they felt. Suddenly my doubting superiors had shifted the entire feeling of the camp I had grown up knowing. The 8 weeks that I spent there were difficult, stressful and emotion, nothing like the 24 weeks I had spent there as a camper over the last 12 years. I found myself angry at God for bringing people to my safe haven and having them change it. And if you guys are waiting for the part where I tell you what prayer I learned that is applicable to almost every situation I could think of it’s coming soon I promise.

One night that summer one of my co counselors overheard me praying. I was doing the angry prayer and although I hope you guys haven’t experienced it I think everyone knows how it goes. I was so upset throwing out countless “why me”s when I realized my co-counselor  Christy was standing in the doorway. I tried to explain myself but honestly I was embarrassed. I explained to Christy about the horrible awful day I had and how I was really struggling to see why God had put me in the situation I was in. Christy taught me the prayer that her mom had taught her and now I will teach it to you guys.

Christy taught me that although the angry prayer was totally valid and would allow me to let my frustration out more than her prayer I should try a prayer of thanksgiving instead. She walked me through it and said “God I want to thank you for this opportunity to find my strength in you and prove those who doubt me wrong.”

At first I thought that thanking God for my haters was a little naive. Like was I really thanking him for making me feel like I was inadequate because I wasn’t born a year earlier? But the prayer grew on me and it really is applicable to everything. I began to thank God rather than question. I thanked God for my bad math grade, “God thank you for this opportunity to see my weaknesses and work on the concepts I struggle with.” I thanked God when my grandfather celebrated his 89th birthday, “God thank you for another year with a person I love and thank you for giving me someone who inspires me.” I even thanked God when one of my cousins passed away, “God thank you for the time I was able to spend with her and keeping her safe until we meet again.”

Although it may seem repetitive and a little contradicting this prayer of thanksgiving has allowed me to accept the hardships and glorify the good times. We always remember to thank God for the good things, it’s the bad things that we forget about. But we can’t forget that God gives us everything the good, bad and the ugly, as 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.’” God has a plan for every single one of us–big, confusing, messy, beautiful plans. Thanking God for all that God gives us allows us to put our plans into motion and accept our future with God.

So now my prayer of thanksgiving is “God, thank you for this opportunity. Thank you for St. Mark’s, for the lovely faces that fill this room and the experience of joining together here. Allow us to give you thanks and celebrate your plans amongst people who support us and our faith.”

 

 

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