On February 23, 2020, Harper Hoover, a senior at Waco High School stepped into the pulpit at Seventh and James Baptist Church in Waco, Texas, and preached her first sermon.
Harper is an active church member and has led a Sunday School series entitled “The Bible and Broadway,” which featured several famous Broadway shows with biblical inspiration and the biblical texts and hymns that inspired them. She taught a Wednesday night lesson to fellow youth students and is involved in Seventh and James Baptist Church’s youth ministry as a student-leader.
In her school, Harper is involved in theatre and serves as president of The National Honor Society. She will attend Washington University in St. Louis in the fall to study political science.
Harper’s sermon on February 23 was title: “Witnessing the Transfiguration,” and she highlighted the varied ways we may bear witness to the Good and Glorious News of Jesus in everyday life. Taking as her text 2 Peter 1:16-21, she preached a challenging sermon, encouraging the congregation to share how they’re seen God’s love at work in their lives. She assured her listeners that they each have a unique voice through God speaks in wonderful and surprising ways.
Here is an excerpt from Harper’s sermon:
“The changes we make in our lives after the transfiguration should bring us closer to Jesus and his decrees. In our theatre company, we have this saying “tell the story.” Our directors remind us before any show, when the tensions are running high, when the stage anxiety hits, when we fear we will forget our blocking and music and lines, we need to remember what we are there for. We are there to tell the audience our story–whether it is one of hope, love, unity, or acceptance. We don’t need to focus on a perfect show; we just need to get our point across, and in pursuing that, all else will come.
“Tell the story. Friends, what a story we have to tell. The transfiguration is one of majesty and glory, as God came down to Peter and the disciples. As Moses and Elijah joined to honor the Messiah. What a story we have in the gospel. A story of a baby born into poverty, into persecution, who became our Savior, our healer, our teacher, who carried our sins and who took them away. A God who so loved the world he gave his only son to us. And he sends us out, to witness to him to witness unto others . . . . I have been taught and shown and seen the purest forms of witnessing from Sunday School teachers, from ministers, from volunteers, from fellow youth, from children at music camp and in so many more instances. And as I, ’embark on the next journey of my life,’ as the cliché goes, I want to witness to others in the same fashion as Seventh has witnessed to me.
My brothers and sisters in Christ, we have witnessed a great and glorious God. Then, now and forevermore. Go forth, from this point on, remembering what God has done, seeing where God is now, and acting in ways that will make God visible to others.”