June 8, 2014
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 12: 4-13
Amy and Dr. Judson sometimes like to start their sermons with surveys and I think id like to do the same.
Its graduation season, and I have just recently graduated from Seaholm high school, right down the road, this past Sunday and I’m sure several of you in the audience know someone graduating this month.
So, here’s the survey part. By a show of hands, who has sent a graduation card to someone, ever? Great this is what I thought, several of you.
Since my brother and I are recent graduates, we”ve sent and received dozens of graduation cards and I can tell you from experience that they will probably go something like this; “follow your own path” or “you have what it takes to succeed”, or “this is just the beginning”.
Truly, I believe that today’s bible verse would make an excellent Hallmark card. (PAUSE) To summarize, the verse tells us that God gives us each different and unique talents but are all from the same God and are therefore equal. These talents should be used in unity with one another for the betterment of the world. So, if this is the case (which it certainly is), then why don’t we live in a perfect world? It seems to me that if we are all blessed with these talents then certainly our world should be a better place than it is now. Why does it appear that some people have no constructive talent such as members of the Taliban or other hate groups? Did God forget them? I believe that the fact of the matter is that although they are there, they may not exactly be present.
Thinking about how talents may not be so noticeable at first, I’d like to ask you all to take a journey with me three years back when I was just a wee little freshman, ending my first year of high school at Seaholm, For us Seaholmers, the Spring of 2011 started with an unexpected bang.
In one of the mens bathrooms, someone had vandalized a wall with racial graffiti. The writing consisted of something along the lines of “N-words” that should be lynched” followed by a list of five African American students at the school. The response was lightening fast. The police came to investigate, news stations rushed to the scene, Seaholm parent assemblies became a common occurrence and several pep rallys were strung together to fight the backlash and unify the school. With white students making up about 95% of the Seaholm community, we were quickly dubbed as racists. The school issued out buttons to students that depicted black and white people holding hands, so they could decorate their backpacks to display our intolerance of racism.
At first the situation seemed bleak . Nobody had any idea who had done it and other schools hated us for it. As a freshman baseball player, I have specific memories of being taunted as we left the bus to play an away game.
I felt it in my core; all my life I had been molded by good values and now I was being misrepresented because of a certain racist individual. Outside looking in, we appeared to be a bunch of affluent racists. However, on the inside, I can tell you that that was certainly not the case. Everyone was just as upset as I was. We felt judged and labeled just because we could proudly call ourselves “Maple Leaves”.
For a while whenever I met someone from a different school, this was one of the first things I was asked about.
Finally, and what seemed like against all odds, the identity of the person who had caused so much turmoil in our school community was revealed. And the identity of the person was nothing short of shocking. The student responsible was an African American senior at the school. In fact, his name was even on the list in the boy’s bathroom.
The immediate response from my peers and me was anger that the entire racism scandal had been fabricated and the damage was already done. Our school’s name had been tarnished and by affiliation, my name.
In reflection I realized that maybe there was more to the story. Maybe I had begun to judge unfairly just as I had been unfairly judged. From the outside looking in the student seemed confused and manipulative but in actuality I didn’t take the time to know him and do my best to understand. I certainly didn’t look for his talents.
Through our verse today, God has told us that no one is talentless and God has blessed all of us in different ways. Sometimes there will be misunderstandings as you can see from what happened at our school but that does not mean these talents are none existent. They may simply be buried for the time being and may need help getting to or are unclear at first but are nevertheless there. OUR JOB IS TO SEEK AND APPRECIATE THE GOD GIVEN TALENTS IN OTHERS even if it is at first not obvious.
And Maybe Hallmark could put that last line on a graduation card.
Pastors and Associate Pastors: Dr. John Judson, Rev. Joanne Blair, Dr. Kate Thoresen, Rev. Ted Thode