Youth Sunday Sermon – May 15, 2016

In the name of the father, the son, and the Holy Spirit.

Saint Johns has done so much for me and meant so much to me my entire

life. It is a place and a group of people that is central to some of my best

memories and happiest times.

Today is one my favorite days every year at St. John’s. I think that’s

because it’s a day that celebrates a group of people that has been a huge

part of my life, EYC.

The transition into this group started in the sixth grade. During this year the

rest of this years seniors and I experienced some serious changes. We

started sitting in church to listen to the sermon instead of going to children’s

chapel. We also started going to confirmation class on Sunday morning

instead of regular Sunday school. Over this year we were taught lots of

knowledge about Christianity and the episcopal church by our teacher, Mrs

Mcgowin and Mr Mclemore. At the end of this year we were confirmed, a

wonderful event that took place last week where confirmands become

members of the church.

Soon after EYC started. One of the first EYC events that I remember was a

summer lock-in. It was a fun night where the St. John’s and Ascension

youth groups bonded over scary tours of the Grace episcopal church

gardens at midnight and hours of fun games like hide & go seek or baseball

at 6 in the morning.

During that first lock-in and first year of EYC I started to realize the unity,

acceptance, and love of the Episcopal church. Here was a group of people

from all around Montgomery who may not have been friends or even

known each other if it wasn’t for St Johns. This is especially true for current

and former youth group advisors. As a 13 year old I don’t think I would’ve

just become friends with adults like Worth Stuart, Mrs Kyser, Caitlin, or Jim

Marshall. (Pause) I also wouldn’t have known all the older high schoolers

that I got to know on ski trips. But that’s the beauty of God and the church,

just as how the scripture today talked about how we are all Gods children,

EYC is an organization that is made up from everyone, it’s the parents that

take their children to Sunday afternoons at St. John’s, it’s the advisors that

take time out of every week to spend time with high schoolers, it’s the

priests and churches that organize these groups, and it’s the youth. Today

is a celebration of the entire church and everything that is great about it.

Another great thing about youth group is the support system it provides

during the tenuous years of middle school and high school. EYC provided a

space to confide and discuss daily problems with advisors and friends. This

enforced my belief that God is always there to protect us, because as many

who have through being a teenager know, this is a vicious time where it

often seems that safe spaces don’t actually exist. EYC also helped me

build a group of friendships that has existed throughout my high school

career in and out of church. I think that is another great facet of St. John’s,

because some of the friends that I made at EYC went to school with me but

some didn’t, but I was friends with all of them because we bonded over

Sunday nights and this transferred to life during the rest of the week. EYC

allowed me to get to know and talk to many different people who are still

some of closest and longest lasting friends today.

St. John’s as a whole has also been an amazing source of support and

love. Every single time someone in church succeeds at least one person,

usually many, from St. John’s is there to congratulate them. Sometimes it

seems that parishioners know more about what’s going on in my life than I

do. (Pause) I think this part of St. John’s is one of the main reasons that

when I think of an ideal church I can only think of St. John’s. Because in my

experience, we are not just a church that meets on Sunday’s and

occasionally Wednesday nights, we are a church that is truly invested in

everyone for their entire lives.

The event that truly showed love and support of God and St Johns was my

father’s death. (Pause) It was something that no one saw coming but God

and St. John’s were immediately there. On the night it happened, family

members and Robert were at the house comforting and looking after my

mother, my brother, and me in the blink of an eye. The next morning God

and St John’s were at my house again in the form of family and friends

filling the rooms to drive out the intense feelings of loneliness and loss

being felt by everyone. And at the funeral and through the rest of my life St.

John’s has been there for my family and me.

And that love and support is what today’s gospel lesson talks about. In the

Gospel, Phillip says to Jesus “show us the father.” Jesus spent his entire

life showing who the father is. You at St. John’s have shown me the love of

God my entire life, and now our job as the youth is to carry the love of God

out into the world. May we all know the love of God through Jesus Christ,

and may we be the love of God to everyone we meet. (Pause) Amen