Homily 1 - "Our Role" - Samuel Q.
As a high school senior, the most common question I hear is some variation of the: what do you want to do when you finish school? And every time I hear this, I recall a conversation I had with a scholarship interviewer where he told me in a gleefully sadistic way that his favorite question to ask was exactly that: what do you want to do? If the candidates answered with some concrete life plan or career goal he would respond with: “You’re too young, you don’t actually know what you want to do.” And if they told him they had no idea what they wanted to study or do for work, he would say: “You’re practically an adult you have to have SOME idea!” And as fun as that is to mess with stressed out high schoolers it does reveal the very contradiction about this thought provoking time in my life where I have to make some very important decisions about where to go and what to study and what kind of role to fill. Because that decision will affect my future and the future of others and requires some life experience that I don’t have. Do you realize how insane that sounds on paper? For any other kind of important decision on the planet a teenage boy is about the last person you would want to have any kind of input from. Now that’s not to say I have no idea what I want to do or think I should do. I have some vague ideas about my calling but I don't know what kind of specific, in the words of Isaiah “arrow” I will become. I do know that I am a part of this community. And as such I have learned that regardless of my individual skills or career aspirations I have a minimum requirement: to show, not tell people of loving thy neighbor as thyself. For if everyone of us, us arrows carry out this seemingly basic yet incredibly difficult task no matter our individual roles then we can fulfill the role of this church...this quiver if you will. What is our role you may ask? Our role as a church is to be a loving pillar of the greater community around us. A beacon of light to all people needing a home or safe place to worship. Our role is to take public stands against injustice and intolerance wherever we see it. We must all be arrows of goodness and love in this quiver of Royal Lane.
Homily 2 - "Send to Serve" - Jasmine P.
Please allow me to take this moment to acknowledge how much I appreciate this opportunity to stand before all of you today. Today’s scripture is that of which we know all too well. Throughout the scripture for today, servanthood was the centralized idea...and it sparked a question. What does it mean to truly be a servant? Merriam Webster states that a servant is one who serves others. Okay, so what does it mean to selflessly serve others...because my idea of serving might not be the same as yours, right? The dictionary provided me with a large amount of definitions to choose from, so I narrowed it down to these two ideas. A servant can be defined as answering the needs of someone or to contribute to something. The ways that you and I can contribute to other people and the world are endless, so what’s deterring you from providing your service to society?
My parents never allow my sister and I to forget how much they are a service to us ... and in a lot of ways, I don’t think I was truly able to identify and recognize them for all that they do and continue to instill in me and my sister as well….That was until I started to dive deeper into this scripture. My parents, and you all I’m sure, provide everything they possibly can to Jayda and I. The amount of emotional support that it takes to maintain a healthy relationship between a parent and their child is important. The amount of sacrifices that need to be made is a service. Wait, but then I ask myself, how do they provide a service to other people?
We believe it, but in a variety of ways, I think that it’s amazing how one person can serve. Who do you serve? How are you providing a service to other people? As I end my junior year of high school, I’m starting to realize my place in the world. I know that I want to help people, because I am blessed. I am blessed to have such an amazing family and church that always supports my every move. We should not only encourage the people right next to us but beyond that. Mark chapter 10 verse 45 states, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Being a servant means we go out and share the love of God.
No matter what the background of an individual may be, everyone is worthy. It means we don’t judge others for what they don’t have, but instead encourage them and speak in the future of what they will have. Sharing love with others is what makes us Christians. No one is left out or behind.
At times we can think that taking care of me and only me should be my number one priority. Are you serving anyone else besides yourself? Are you doing the bare minimum or what is required of you? We have the power to be a blessing to others. We don’t always know how much another person needs a blessing in their life when that person can be you. When you serve others the blessing will come back to you in return. You’re never too old or too young to serve others. Not every blessing has to be big, but instead the little ones can count just as much. I encourage you to go out and be of service to someone . You may be a blessing in disguise. God sees us making these sacrifices and he knows we’re going above and beyond.
We can serve others by simply holding the door. A smile goes a long way especially for people who haven't felt happy in a long time or maybe finally doing something that your parents have repeatedly told you to do, going to the nearest soup kitchen and volunteer your time or your gifts to support that cause. I’m sure we’re all familiar with the saying “Actions speak louder than words”, as cheesy as this sentence might be it sets the foundation for how our behaviour affects other people in society. This principle holds true to me and my morals as well. From the book of Colossians chapter 3 verses 23 through 24 it states,, “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ.”
In closing, I would like to share the following quote by Martin Luther King Jr. that has largely impacted the way that I view life, “Everybody can be great … because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” Amen!
Homily 3 - "Leadership in Abundance" - Jonah H.
I am a firm believer that leadership, or leadership qualities can be seen in most everyone. This trait is fluent through many people because of our inherent natural “want” to help one another, to help our neighbors. For the most part at least.
Now, you may be wondering why I just said any of that and how that relates to our scripture for today… which is Isaiah 49. This scripture, which is often considered a poem; asks of Israel's role and his calling to God. And I think it is only appropriate for us to do the same this Sunday… so, I must tell you a story.
Growing up I was surrounded by educators. Often times on weekends my mother and I would take trips to her schools to work on decorating, filing, organizing, cleaning, and preparing for the week ahead. These hours spent at school with my mom and often times with her teachers played a bigger role in my education and upbringing than I once realized. These educators or… leaders; taught me that the extra hours, minutes, and seconds put into a child can make all the difference. And in teaching me this they were doing the same for me.
Now I am in High School. I’ve been given the opportunity to educate and lead others and I can tell you first hand that nothing quite beats helping someone have a “light bulb” moment, or leading them to find a home; just somewhere where they are comfortable…. And now, because of these educators and LEADERS in my early years I know what my calling is now. It’s to lead. Whether that be in music, at church, or just setting the example when I’m walking down the street. Leading, is MY calling. But, I’m not here to just talk about myself, I'm here to talk about our community, our church, our Diverse People United in Christ.
Needless to say, Royal Lane is not your typical Baptist Church. We don’t have projectors and TV’s next to our pulpit. We have a massive pipe organ. We don’t have a worship band. We have a beautiful and strongly led choir. And most importantly we don’t judge those who walk through our doors that look different than us, that believe different than us, and that love different than us. Instead, we build friendships with those people. We treat them as equals. Because, well... they are.
Our calling as Royal Lane Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas is to lead by love. Whether that be through our deacons, our youth, our children, our choir, our Wednesday night activities, or our missions we as a church and as Christians lead through an example of love. Verse 5 of Isaiah 49 reads “And now the Lord says— he who formed me in the womb to be his servant”. In our case, a servant or leader of love. The Lord formed Royal Lane to lead our community with love.
There is one hymn that our choir sings that embodies this idea so well. So I’m going to leave you today with a verse from that piece. We will walk with each other, we will walk hand in hand-We will walk with each other, we will walk hand in hand-And together we'll spread the news that God is in our land-And they'll know we are Christians by our love, by our love-They will know we are Christians by our love.
So, today, this week, this year, this upcoming decade. Let us lead with love.