Honoring the Nestorian Christians

Monday, October 14, 2013


(Youth Sunday at St.James Episcopal Church, 84-07 Broadway, NY 11373. 10.13.2013.)

Today being Youth Sunday, I would like to preach, not from the lectionary reading but from a special word of the Lord that I want to share with the youth. Philippians 3:14:”My friends, I do not consider myself perfect. But one thing I do, forgetting what is behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me.”

In this world, there are two kinds of people: the losers and the winners. The losers go through life missing the mark, not fulfilling the potentials that God has given them. The winners go through life hitting the mark, always trying to fulfill God’s will. The losers when they try and fail, they get stuck in depression and regret. The winner, when they try and fail, they always rise up. The losers always think that failure is final; the winners always think that “success is never-ending and failure is never final.”

As children of God, we are made to become winners. What are the ways of the winners? Let me share seven points on what it takes to become a winner. You know I often use a three-point sermon, because they say, three points are what most adults can remember. But since I am addressing myself especially to young people, I believe they can remember these seven points.

  1. Walk with faith
The first step to become a winner is to walk with faith. How do you walk with faith? Do you walk like this (stoop down in defeat)? Or like this (look up and ahead)? When you walk with faith, you raise your head, you look confident, you look up. When I was a child, I learned the song “
“Walk with faith in your heart and you'll never walk alone For with faith in your heart, the world is yours to own; you never will grieve If in him, you believe and Walk with faith in your heart.”

When you walk with faith in your heart, you are not alone. God is there with you. And even when you walk through the storm in your life, you can hold you head up high. You will not be afraid of the dark because the light of Christ dispels the darkness. So walk with faith in your heart.

 2.Imitate Jesus
Thomas A’ Kempis, the mystical writer who wrote “Imitation of Christ” says that Christ is the perfect image of humanity. If you must have an American idol, let it be Jesus. The bible tells we are created in the image of God but that image was darkened because of sin. It is like seeing your face in a broken glass. Jesus is the clear mirror of our souls. Each one of us is unique so do not compare yourself with others. If you always compare yourself with others, you will either feel inferior because there are others better than you or you will feel superior because you think you are better than the others. But if you imitate Jesus, you will never fail. Jesus is the supreme example of faith, hope and love.

3. Nothing is impossible. You must always be positive and always use positive words. But if you must say a negative word, it is this “nothing is impossible.” The bible clearly says that there is nothing impossible to those who believe. Do you know who were the first persons to climb to the top of Mount Everest? There were two of them: Edmund Hillary from New Zealand and Tensing Norgay from Nepal.

Mount Everest is the highest mountain in the world standing 29,035 feet or 8,850 miles. Everest has long been considered unclimbable. Many climbers had attempted to do it and many lost their lives trying. Climbing Mount Everest is extremely dangerous. Besides the freezing weather (which puts climbers at risk for extreme frostbite) and the obvious potential for long falls from cliffs and into deep crevasses, climbers of Mount Everest suffer from the effects of the extreme high altitude, often called "mountain sickness."

But Hillary and Norgay had a dream. They rehearsed it in their minds day and night. Finally, after years of dreaming and planning and rehearsing their strength, and seven weeks of climbing, Hillary and Norgay became the first persons to ever reach the summit of Mount Everest. Nothing is impossible!

4. Never give up
Whatever happens, never give up on life. Hold on to your dreams. The best is yet to be. In the bible, Jesus told this story of about a single mother who was appealed to the judge to pardon her teenage son. Jesus used this parable to illustrate “unceasing prayer.” If you have a noble dream, pursue that dream, never give-up until it becomes yours. As a person, you are defined not on how many times you fall but on how many times you rise up after every fall. Look at this illustration. The guy below quit at the wrong moment. Had he tried the pick one more time, he would have hit the jackpot. Winners do not quit; they persevere.

5. Excel in everything you do
Excellence is not necessarily perfection. Excellence is doing the best that you have. That is what St. Paul is saying, “I have not been made perfect, but I press on toward the upward call.” Hillary was asked, what made him believe he can conquer Mount Everest and he said, “That mountain is tall, very tall, but it cannot grow taller. I am strong and I can even get stronger.”

6. Resist temptations
When you rise to success there will be some temptations in your life. Jesus was tempted like any human being was, yet he did not sin. What are the temptations in your life? Someone said the sin of youth is passion, the sin of adults is pride, and the sin of the old is prejudice. Since you are like my children, let me say frankly what are some of the possible temptations you may encounter in your life. I would name three: sex, drugs and pride.

a. Sex One temptation concerns sex. If you’re unable to control your passion, you may end up in unplanned pregnancy. When I was in college, we had a jingle which says, “What a waste, what a waste, the student today; the parents think she’s okay but actually she’s playing sneaky.” It tells the story of young girl who came to the university to study Medicine. Her parents hoped she will come home someday as an MD (Medical Doctor); it became an MD but it meant “marriage degree.” 

b. Drugs- Education is very expensive and so if you study from your parents’ income, do not to spend it on vices like drugs, cigarettes or alcohol. Do not be tempted by the lifestyle of others who want new and fast cars. Learn to live simply and not live beyond your parents’ means.

c. Pride – When you are in your parents’ home and not yet an adult, you are under their authority. You should know what time you expected to be home, what kind of company you should keep, what kind of dresses you should wear, what kind of boyfriend or girlfriend you should go with. Do not be overcome by pride that you do not listen to your parents’ advice. The Book of Proverb says, “An obedient child is a joy to his parents but a stupid son brings grief.” 

7. Serve the Lord
Finally, whatever you do, do it as if serving the Lord. The prophet Joshua said, “Choose you this day whom you will serve; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”  When I was a child, my dream was to become a bus driver. I wanted to transport people from place to place. Then at high school, I wanted to become a teacher. In college, I wanted to write and be a newsman. I indeed became a journalist. But when I became a priest, I seem to have fulfilled my youthful dreams. As a priest, I would sometimes transport people to church; I teach and I write. God works in mysterious ways to fulfill the desires of our hearts.

Let me conclude this sermon with a parable about the pencil:

The Pencil Maker took the pencil aside, just before putting him into the box and said:” "Before I send you out into the world, there are five things you need to know to become the best pencil you can be."

"One, you will be able to do many great things, but only if you allow yourself to be held in someone’s hand."

"Two, you will experience a painful sharpening from time to time, but you'll need it to become a pointed pencil."

"Three, with an eraser, you will be able to correct any mistakes you might make."

"Four, remember the most important part of you is what's inside."

"Five, on every paper you are used on, you must leave your mark. No matter what the condition, you must continue to write. Remember these five things and you will be a great pencil that you can be."

The pencil understood and promised to remember, and went into the box with purpose in its heart. 

Dear ones, each of you has a purpose in your heart. Fulfill that God-given purpose. Learn from the ways of the pencil, learn from the ways of the winners:

Walk with faith.
 Imitate Christ.
Nothing is impossible.
Never give up.
Excel in everything you do.
Resist temptation.
Serve God.
Be winners!

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