As I begin my fourth year among you, I am so filled with joy to be here with you all, to be part of whatever God is calling the Parish of the Epiphany to become. Every Sunday, as I drive in early in the morning, I am filled with excitement and expectation thinking about the time I will spend with you in worship, formation, and fellowship. I love seeing the children gather around the font, I love seeing the youth congregating together as acolytes, I even love how on most Sundays things don’t go exactly as planned and there is much help and laughter as we realize a little chaos is okay. I love being part of this community. I have learned so much from all of you about what Church is and I am grateful.
Last week, I was given a gift. I was able to sit in on the El Hogar youth service team meeting. It was the first time the eleven high school youth were together since they returned from their journey on 21-28 July. As they recounted their time at El Hogar in Honduras, they told stories, they laughed about funny incidences, and finished each other’s sentences. It was easy being with them, they were happy, relaxed and welcoming, they included me in their group, even though I wasn’t there with them this year.
And after getting settled, they planned for their sermon. I heard them reflect and thoughtfully articulate, each in their own way, their gratefulness for the gift of a privileged life the opportunities it brings. I heard them realize also what a gift it was to spend time with the children in Honduras who do not have these same opportunities. Each was transformed in some way by the experience. When they gave the sermon on 23 September, I know some were nervous about standing up in front of the Church, but they persevered.
It occurred to me as I sat there listening to them that among many of the groups I have spent time with over the years, I have learned much about what Church is from the high school youth:
They show up and when they show up they are all in. They show up even though it might be outside of their comfort zone. They deliver food to the Council of Social Concern and serve lunch at the Christmas Fair, they spend many of their YPF meetings lugging up the Rummage Sale items, and they jump in to help with childcare when I am shorthanded. They show up early Saturday morning to be trained as acolytes for Holy Day services, they show up to prepare and serve meals for our Parish, they show up to do outreach at Rosie’s Place. I will always be thankful that they showed up as counselors at Vacation Bible School. I have even seen them show up just to lend moral support to each other.
They hold each other accountable. They are engaged together and coax each other to join in the life of our Parish as acolytes and as members of the high school choir. They join together to participate in service opportunities both in and outside of the Parish. They check on each other. When someone is not at a meeting, one of them will text to find out why. I have even seen them disagree and work through their disagreements as a group. They take care of each other.
They ask deep and thoughtful questions about their faith. Some of the deepest conversations I have had over the years have been with youth who were preparing to be confirmed. They ask a lot of questions, they have a lot of thoughts and opinions and they listen with openness, respect and humility.
Our youth are such a gift. They get it, what Church is and I look forward to learning more from them.
See you on Sunday.