The Cathedral of St. Philip - Atlanta, GA

All About Me? by Olivia Stewart

Click here for the podcast

Chastain Horse Park
Atlanta, Georgia
Youth Family Social

I finally have my 15 minutes of fame! When asked to give the sermon, I'll admit, I was a
little nervous. But, I soon thought about all the things I would receive tonight. My 15 minutes
of fame would include, attention, possible admiration, respect, and clearly my popularity with
the church would shoot through the roof! For once I could be sure that all eyes were on me.

I've only neared my 15 minutes of fame on three different occasions. I remember the first
time. It was the regional track meet where I competed for pole vaulting. All my teammates and
coaches were focused on cheering me on. The first place gold was mine! All eyes were on me was
when I had to make my VP speech for Student Council in front of my entire class of six hundred
people. I had the spotlight shining on me- figuratively and literally. In case you were wondering,
I won the election! My last occasion was when I was mistaken for a celebrity, country star singer
Taylor Swift. My wild, huge, curly hair and I played along pretending I was someone famous and
important. I'll be available for autographs after the service. : ) In the end, these events all had
one thing in common: they left me with a temporary high, which quickly faded away to
emptiness. When I look back on all my fame, I feel absurd, shallow, and foolish, caring so
much about the attention I was receiving. What makes me feel this way?

As Paul tells us this evening, "Let love be genuine, love one another with mutual affection;
outdo one each other in showing honor." I realize that I was not at all loving others with mutual
affection because I was too busy loving myself. My love was not genuine, for it was shallow and
based on selfish desires. I was trying to outdo others in winning honor to build myself up. I was
forgetting my equality with all of God's creation. Paul goes on to say, "Do not lag in zeal, be
ardent in spirit, serve The Lord." Through my actions I have been serving myself; attempting to
make myself feel better. My focus on serving God was blurred.

Before I found a home at the Cathedral I was constantly switching churches trying to find
a stable church community. The problem was that I was church shopping for all the wrong
reasons. I was looking for a church that would enhance my social life; a place where I was
comfortable and "cool". I wanted to feel better about myself, to feel proud for simply attending
church. I was looking to receive new friends. I was looking to receive attention and affection. I
was looking to receive a better relationship with God. It was still all about me. Again, I was left
with an empty feeling. What makes me feel this way?

I continue to receive, yet I feel empty! This seems to make no sense. 15 minutes is only
15 minutes. But when my timer runs out, then what? Will you remember my words after
tonight? Paul goes on to say, "Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.
Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another."
When I stop to think, I realize there have been times in the youth group where it was not all
about me. I had the opportunity this summer to lead a Bible Study at Fellini's. Through God I
guided, assisted, and learned with the youth group. Suddenly, I had become an offering. It is not
all about me when we sing at the top of our lungs to worship; for we are lifting our voices up and
"rejoicing with those who rejoice." Sometimes I've even gone so far as standing up and teaching
hand-motions to the songs. Without even noticing I've become an offering.

As Paul reminds us, I've tried to "extend hospitality to strangers." It is not all about me
when we serve meals to the homeless at Peachtree Pine Shelter, or when we worked in the
Alzheimer's Clinic on the Memphis Mission Trip. On the mission trip we all quickly caught on to
our new catch phrase "We are here to serve!" We all needed a wake up call that it was not only
about us, but what we were there to do for others (especially at 4 in the morning!) "We are here
to serve" reminded us and emphasized that we were all working together as an offering.

Wait a second, what happened to my 15 minutes of fame? If it is no longer all about me
and my fame then what makes me stay motivated to be an offering? When we forget about
receiving everything, we grow, focusing on what we have to give and offer. There's only one thing
that makes it all worth while, makes every moment precious, and makes all the memories
unforgettable, the rewards. I don't mean temporary rewards that have fading glory, such as
medals, trophies, or fame. It's all about the imperishable rewards that can't be touched, but can
be felt and cherished. On our Memphis Mission Trip for the homeless and elderly, we realized
that we were all doing the work of God. What a great reward! We also felt an indescribable
emotion of joy from seeing the smiles, appreciation, and thankfulness across the faces of those
helped. What a great reward! At the end of the night just one less person would go to bed hungry
because of our offerings. What a great reward! Serving others also puts our own life back in
perspective. It shows us how fortunate our lives truly are; reminding us to appreciate all our
many blessings. What a great reward!

One of the greatest rewards through the youth group offering together is the strong
unification it causes. If we offer our hearts together through worship, studying scripture,
serving the homeless, and attending church activities we act as offerings for not only others but
also for each other. Our offerings enhance strong relationships because we can begin to see God
in everyone. We begin to recognize the offering of others. We begin to realize that we are not
coming to church or youth group activities just for ourselves, but also for everyone else. We come
to church to offer support. We come to offer friendship. We come to offer encouragement
through God. We may not notice the effect our offerings have on others, or the cycle of
motivation and inspiration we may cause bringing forth more offerings.

This sermon is my offering tonight. I'm not looking to receive my 15 minutes of fame and
glory, but the reward is great! The reward is that my offering may inspire and lead to more
offering. In the end, I have so much to gain from being in front of you tonight... NOT popularity,
NOT attention, NOT admiration, and most of all, NOT fame. But the hope that through
God my offering will be received and someone else will decide to become an offering. AMEN.