Youth Sunday 2017 | Closing Prayer

Dear Lord,
As we leave this church crafted by your loving hands, let us remember you shape the rocks and the land just as this church shapes us. Let these rocks we hold serve as constant reminders that through you, the church crafts us into Christians pleasing to your sight. Through our creation, we are all shaped differently, yet we all share the same jagged edges and sparkle. We are uniquely crafted, yet all the same at our core, both flawed and beautifully made. We thank you for allowing us to remember that the church, which you have created with love and care, is not just a building made of rock, but a call to go out and practice your great compassion and spread your good word. Let us remember this true meaning of church as we go out into the world with the opportunity to shape others in the same way church shapes us.

Written by Ally S.

Youth Sunday 2017 | Prayers of the People

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God,

In the United States and all around the world today, there are happenings and people around every corner that are in need of your help and of your love.

The refugees fleeing from the ever so apparent violence and brutality present there every day need our prayers to reach a better life and to someday get back to the lives they lived before the violence began, and we would like to pray for their safety, prosperity, and acceptance.

In this town and in bigger cities all around the world, you can see a person facing the harsh costs of poverty, living without homes, food, or opportunity. Give these people the opportunities to pull themselves out of poverty, to help their children escape the endless cycle of poverty, and to overall lead a better life.

Please allow the never-ending tension apparent in our country and world today to show a foreseeable end. We pray to you that it will not tear apart relationships at the seams and that we can come together as a big community once again.

On a global and local scale, discrimination against Muslims because of their religion has become a big problem. Let us all live in harmony without any hate someday.

Thank you, God, for all the beautiful beings and opportunities surrounding us, thank you for the trees, for the wind, and for the sky.

The relationships that hold us together make our lives better every day, so thank you Lord for providing them. Most of all, thank you Lord for providing us as a youth group the precious relationships, opportunities, and time together to learn more about you and act in your ways.

Written by Ella J., 9th grade.

Youth Sunday 2017 | Offering Invitation

Last month, many of us had the opportunity to volunteer at Slammin’ Famine, an event where we packed dehydrated food to feed hungry children. Together, our team packed enough to feed 21 kids in Nicaragua for a whole year!

I got to experience what it feels like to know what we were doing would make a real difference in someone’s life.

The money collected in the offering baskets allows us to show our Christian love by making a difference in people’s lives within the community or even the world. We invite you to give your tithes and offerings.

Written by Adrienne N., 8th grade.

Youth Sunday 2017 | Senior Sermon

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Growing up, my family used to go to church every Sunday. My dad sang and played in the band and I was committed to Sunday school. As the church grew, it had to move to a bigger location. We tried our best to make it every Sunday, but every Sunday turned into every other Sunday, every other Sunday turned into the occasional Sunday, and the occasional Sunday just stopped happening. I was growing up, my parents were getting new jobs, and we just couldn’t make the time anymore.

Fast forward seven years later to when a good friend of mine at the time told me about an amazing church camp she went to. She invited me to come with her that summer—I agreed, not sure of what to expect. Little did I know that going to camp that summer would drastically change my definition of church forever. It was no longer a distant memory of sermons past and songs I vaguely remembered, but rather something that sparked a passion deep inside me that over the past few years has grown into a roaring flame—not just from going to camp, but going on numerous mission trips and service retreats.

Camp taught me the value of fully engaging in what I was learning and making true connections with the people around me, and with God. The transition back into the real world after a week of no technology is something we talk about at the end of every camp. We talk about how we can take the information we have learned over the week and apply it in our separate lives back home.

I didn’t realize it the first time, or even the second time we talked about this, but over time I realized that it was the same for church.

We come to church to learn, and grow in our faith, we come to build friendships with a community that shares our values, and we come to praise God. But none of it matters if we don’t make the effort to live out what we learn.

Because being a Christian is more than just showing up to church on Sunday.

Written by Kate Seaver, a senior at Thompson Valley High School.  Kate will attend Front Range Community College in the fall.

Youth Sunday 2017 | Senior Sermon

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I came to Heart of the Rockies during my seventh-grade year in school. It was only my second year in the public-school system, I went to private school for the entirety of elementary school, and I hadn’t been able to make very many connections to make up for the ones I had lost from switching schools. From my family’s first visit to Heart of the Rockies I felt welcomed into the church community and quickly decided to get into the youth group. All of the leaders and fellow youth members were amazing and allowed me to quickly transition into the church and the many service opportunities available. This sense of community that I felt upon entering the church would have an enormous impact on everything I would do into the future inside and outside of the church.

The first event that I can remember going to was a fall retreat that we did in Denver at the beginning of my 8th grade year. The experience was completely new to me as I had never done volunteer work of any kind previously. The main focus of the event was around the idea that we should give without asking for anything in return. We executed this by discussing what it meant to us in our personal lives in a series of small group discussions and then went out to 16th street mall and handed out snacks and water to the homeless and anyone else who just wanted one. I was extremely shy at the time so this activity was very daunting to me, however the people around me made it so much better than I ever could have imagined. I had so much fun competing with everyone to see who could give out their bags the quickest, but more importantly really enjoyed seeing the joy and satisfaction on the faces of everyone I interacted with.These ideals of church community and service have played such a large role in my life no matter what I am doing be it at home, school, or in the community.

Since that point, I have participated in numerous fall and winter retreats, community service projects, and school events. These have ranged from helping to rebuild homes after the major floods in northern Colorado, helping to clean up and replant a park in Oregon, putting on a 5k for cancer victims, and visiting nursing homes to help with events and chat with the residents. All of these events have allowed my Christian values to become strengthened as well as more focused.

I have come to realize that going to church to learn and understand what Christianity is a key part in the religion, however going out into your community and acting it out is just as important if not more. Not only do you get to help out others, you also get to experience the tingly feeling inside you get when you see the joy inside the eyes of those who you’ve helped. In Romans 12:10-13 it says, “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.” My interpretation of this centers around the idea with action comes benefits that make the entire worthwhile. If your work is motivated by love and performed in God’s name then you will find yourself enthusiastic and energized by it. God’s love for us shouldn’t remain held deep inside ourselves, instead it should be expressed and spread to the many others throughout our lives so that they can experience its wonders as well. God sends us opportunities every day to positively impact lives around us. One’s service may be as simple as a pleasant smile, an encouraging word, or a listening ear. In different situations however, God may ask for more of you such as sacrificing your time or giving generously of your resources. As you pour yourself into loving them, you’ll discover a sense of fulfillment and joy inside yourself that may never have come about otherwise and also realize what it truly means to be a complete Christian.

Written by Charlie Johnson, a senior at Fossil Ridge High School.  Charlie will attend UC -Santa Barbara in the fall.

Youth Sunday 2017 | Communion Invitation

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Over the past few years, I have seen how Christ moves through us in our everyday lives and when we do good for others, we bring God into that person’s life.  Going on mission trips, I see how much of an impact a good deed has on a homeless person.  Because of this congregation, I have been able to go on mission trips and help feed people in need and show them God through our will to help them and make sure they are alright.  Even though we never went up and down the street doing communion for the homeless people, giving them food and knowing it’s in God’s name makes it just like communion.  Being able to do that is what makes communion communion.  So thank you for letting our youth group do amazing things for others.

Written by Tadan M | 9th grade

Praying with our feet

“In these days of difficulty, we Americans everywhere must and shall choose the path of social justice…the path of faith, the path of hope, and the path of love toward our fellow man.”                                                                                                 FDR, October 2, 1932

The Women’s March on Washington, January 21, 2017. As soon as I heard about plans for this march, shortly after the November elections, I knew I had to be a part of it. I wanted to be present for this historic event not only for myself but more for my daughters and for all of the women in my life. And not just for the women, but also for the oppressed and the downtrodden, the immigrants, the refugees, the minorities: the LGBTQ community, religious minorities, racial minorities…for so many whose voices are not always heard. For decency and respect. For righteousness, justice and truth.

So, off I went with my good friend Ana to Washington, D.C. We were so excited to be a part of this event. On that Saturday morning, we found ourselves crammed in amongst the other hundreds of thousands of people who had made their way to D.C. with similar intentions. In some ways it was a little frightening. For hours we were belly to butt and butt to belly with people we had never met and probably would never see again. We could hear perhaps a quarter of what was being said on the stage, but it didn’t really matter. The message was loud and clear, even if we couldn’t always hear the words. We were surrounded by people, people gathered for so many of the same reasons mentioned above. So much positive energy and so many happy souls surrounded us. So much love and peace united together. So much pure joy, warmth and contentment made the uncomfortably tight crowd so worth the trip.

Amazingly, for me, some of the most moving moments came on the following day, the Sunday after the March. Ana and I headed back into D.C. early that morning. We had planned to spend the day sightseeing – visiting as many of the monuments and memorials surrounding the National Mall that we could squeeze into one day. We got to town early, trying to beat some of the crowds we knew would have similar plans. I have been to DC several times in the past and have visited almost all of the monuments at least once. But today was different. One of the monuments in particular was incredibly moving for me, so much more so than on my previous visits: The Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) Memorial.

We arrived at the FDR Memorial around 9 a.m. It was a cool and cloudy morning, with grey skies and a light drizzle coming down. The crowds were still thin; many seemed to have chosen to sleep in on this morning. It felt as though we had the entire place to ourselves.

As I strolled through the memorial grounds and read many of the words spoken by FDR so many years ago (from 1932 to 1945), I was emotionally struck at how his messages are still so very relevant today:

fdr“Among American citizens, there should be no forgotten men and no forgotten races.”                                                                           October 26, 1936

“I never forget that I live in a house owned by the American people and that I have been given their trust.”                                                                                                                                 April 14, 1938

“We must scrupulously guard the civil rights and civil liberties of all our citizens, whatever their background. We must remember that any oppression, any injustice, any hatred is a wedge designed to attack our civilization.”                                                                                                                               January 9, 1940

“We have faith that future generations will know here, in the middle of the twentieth century, there came a time when men of good will found a way to unite, and produce, and fight to destroy the forces of ignorance, and intolerance, and slavery, and war.”                        February 12, 1943

“Unless the peace that follows recognizes that the whole world is one neighborhood and does justice to the whole human race, the germs of another world war will remain as a constant threat to mankind.”                                                                                                          February 12, 1943

“The structure of world peace cannot be the work of one man, or one party, or one nation…it must be a peace which rests on the cooperative effort of the whole world.”              March 1, 1945

“The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today. Let us move forward with strong and active faith.”                                                               Prepared for April 13, 1945

 

My initial reaction was one of deep sadness and fear. How could we have come so far since FDR’s presidency, and yet now it seems as though we are socially digressing, moving backwards in time, becoming a less civil, less tolerant, less peaceful, and less loving society?

I sat there on this cold and grey morning, surrounded by these awe-inspiring words. As I sat, more people began to arrive, taking in this beautiful memorial, and I began to rethink things. Yes, the days ahead may seem dark and difficult. Yes, right now our nation may not be headed on the path that I would have hoped for us. Yes, it seems like we are on a slippery slope moving away from what I see as righteous and just. But hold on for a moment…Was I not just surrounded by hundreds of thousands of people, gathered together to make sure all voices are heard loud and clear? Were there not similar sister groups gathered and marching all over our country? And all across the world? Have there not been hundreds of groups springing up not only in my town of Fort Collins, Colorado, but all over our great country, taking action and taking a stand to keep our country righteous and just?

We are not on a slippery slope; rather we are on a great wave moving forward! Opportunity has knocked in bizarre fashion, but the knock has woken up sleeping giants! I see and understand Franklin D. Roosevelt’s words and message not as a sad reminder of what could have been but as a solid reminder of how great our nation already is and how strong its people truly are!

So I will continue to march, continue to speak out, continue to stand beside those who need support and strength, continue to stand up for what I believe in. I will respect others’ opinions but I will forge ahead and take action for what I believe is righteous, just and true. And I invite you to join me on this journey.

 

“Freedom of speech…Freedom of worship…Freedom from want…Freedom from fear.”                                                                                   FDR January 6, 1941

 Peace Siochá Paix~

Please visit this link for a list of all FDR’s quotes on display at the FDR Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Joann Johnson is a mother, tennis coach, and justice-seeker.