The following post was adapted from a message that Ryan Knipping, sophomore at Eagan High School and member of Easter shared at confirmation at Easter by the Lake in October. Ryan is involved with the youth summer mission trip program as well as TIM team and Yowies (Youth on Wednesday) high school youth group. Ryan is also involved in the boy’s swim team and other school acitivites.
So first off, I love microphones, so this should be fun. Hey, I’m Ryan Knipping, my story with this church goes back pretty far, I was baptized here, and grew up here. I always grew up going to Sunday school, and it wasn’t until the summer going into my 7th grade year that i truly started to get involved. It all started by signing up for a crazy thing called vacation bible school. Picture your biggest fear…spiders, heights, plane falling from the sky, just put that picture in your head. Now my definition of fear at that time was a huge group of elementary school children that are extraordinarily energetic, and just want to run and have fun. It was not my definition of fun, yet for some crazy reason I went back and did it next summer.
That same summer going into 7th grade, I went on my first mission trip to Milwaukee Wisconsin, despite it being in Wisconsin, it was the best week of my life. On that trip, it was the first time I found God. I say it’s when I found God because it’s when I realized that he’s always there.
Now skip to last summer, by last summer I had been on 5 mission trips to Milwaukee, Duluth, Cairo IL, West Virginia, and finally one of my favorite memories was my trip this summer to Alabama. This is where I was faced with that same agonizing fear that I have…large groups of elementary schoolers that just want to have fun and be kids!
I don’t know how many of you have been to Alabama in the middle of the summer, but let’s just say you never hear the words “I’m cold.” So we were at this community center that had “AC” that tried so hard to keep the heat out, somewhat unsuccessfully. It was in the gym of that community center that I met a little boy named Titus.
Titus was about as tall as my waist, so you can imagine the reaction I had when he ran up to me and gave me a bear hug, just wrapped his arms around me and shoved his head right where it hurts. Him and I soon got very close, and within 30 minutes we were sitting down listening to a story from the Bible about God’s love, shocker I know, story in the Bible about God’s love. He was sitting in my lap and he turns to me and says “I love you” and before I even knew what had happened, I had been kissed by a four-year-old on the lips.
I realized at that time that he might not have anyone to go home to after this and show love to, at the time and still today it almost brings tears to my eyes, all he wanted was to be loved, and to show his love for others.
Many of you know how involved I have become in the community of Easter Lutheran, I have been able to grow as a person and in my faith. The biggest thing that I have realized though this over 1000 day journey of confirmation is that it’s not a Sunday thing, we’re called to live it out each and every day.
The thing I hope that everyone realizes today is that this is not a graduation from the church, it’s not that we never have to come back. This is us confirming our faith, this is not the end of the book, but simply a new chapter. As cliche as it sounds, because it is, I’d like to say thank you to everyone that has brought me to where I am today, all of which are way too long to name, but trust me. You can’t begin to know the impact you have had on me. Lastly remember how much I love microphones, and how fun this experience has been, thanks.