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