Sermon Text: Graduation
Let's hear it for the high school class of 2020!
I am so sorry for them. Because of the pandemic, they cannot have the ceremonies and celebrations they deserve. We have three high school graduates I want to congratulate today. I wish it could be in person. One of the joys of being your priest is to watch all these great kids grow up and head off to the next stage.
So let me talk about three of my young friends. All three of them have been faithful acolytes. You ten-o'clockers have seen them carrying the big cross in procession.
Haleigh Bodine is graduating from Maine-Endwell. She has a wry sense of humor, and has made me laugh a lot. Not only was she an acolyte, but she was a member of our youth group, too. She was involved in the drama club in high school, and is a devoted reader. Both of those things were true of me at her age. And I've always loved her choice in eyeglass frames.
Jenna Castellucci is graduating from Chenango Valley. One of the things I like about Jenna is her willingness to help. I have often recruited her at the last minute to serve as an acolyte, and when I ask, or when I say thanks, she always does the same thing. She smiles and says, "Of course!" Jenna was a member of our youth group, and she was also a hard worker on our ramp-building projects for people in need.
And Patrick Rowe is graduating from Chenango Forks. He has a special place in my heart. He had some serious health problems when he was born. As a little baby, he spent some time in a Syracuse hospital. At the time, I had left St Mark's after being here 7 years -- a really poor choice on my part -- and I was serving a church in Syracuse. I spent a lot of time visiting Patrick and his family in that Syracuse hospital.
Being with him and his family turned out to be one of the many, many reasons I got smart enough to return to St. Mark's in Chenango Bridge. I have spent a lot of time with Patrick, and admire his courage, his kindness, and his sweetness. Not to mention his sense of humor -- he can crack me up.
So these are the members of the high school class of 2020 from St. Mark's. It has been a delight to watch them grow up into such great young adults. We congratulate their parents, and we congratulate them. They deserve more celebrations and ceremonies than will be possible this year.
But you know, I expect a great deal from the graduating class of 2020. Along with the whole world, they have had a hard time due to the pandemic. And I think that means they will always remember not to take the simple things for granted, as I tended to do at age 18. Better than I knew back then, they know that life is tenuous, and life is a gift.
Hard times can crush people, or hard times can make people stronger. I believe that these kids in the Class of 2020 will be stronger.
I have always been impressed by the thoughtfulness, openness and kindness of the kids who grow up at St. Mark's. For 25 years, I've watched the kids of our church have fun and become good people. I have nothing but respect for the parents in this church.
And I'm glad for the kids of our church. They are part of a church that values intelligence. They are part of a church that can speak approvingly of Charles Darwin and the science of evolution. They are part of a church that recognizes that we live in a huge universe with billions of galaxies as far as our telescopes can see. They are part of a church that accepts the evidence for deep time, a universe not a few thousand years old, but, by current estimates, 13.8 billion years old.
They are part of a church that teaches them our Christian tradition, but encourages them to work it out in light of their own brain, their own conscience. I think they are part of a smart church.
So what do I hope for these three members of the Class of 2020? Well, one of my hopes is that they will keep reading, keep thinking, and keep wrestling with how to live wisely. That's a lifelong job...I'm still at it.
And I hope they will continue to be kind people. They've heard me say it for years: "Life is short, and we don't have too much time to gladden the hearts of those with
whom we journey along the way. So let us always be swift to love, and make haste to be kind." I hope they take that kind heart with them wherever they go. The most important thing in life is to be kind. The second most important thing in life is to be kind. And the third most important thing in life...is to be kind.
And I hope they will always remember that the privilege of a lifetime is to be who they are. Each of us gets this gift of life on this beautiful planet, and each of us has a unique destiny. Human beings are very much alike, but we are also individuals. No one gets to be Mark Giroux except me. No one gets to be Haleigh Bodine except her. No one gets to be Jenna Castellucci except her. No one gets to be Patrick Rowe except him.
The privilege of a lifetime is to be who you are. And of course, everything I'm saying applies not just to our graduates, but to each of us.
Be smart. Be kind. Be the person God has created you to be.
And one other thing, for the graduates and for all of us. I really miss having our Sunday services together. When we do gather for Holy Communion, according to the Prayer Book, I am the "celebrant" of the Eucharist. I love that word....celebrant. I have the privilege of being the leader, but we celebrate together.
Well, think of your own life as a Eucharist, a thanksgiving. Who is the celebrant of your life? You are. Be the celebrant of your own life.
The privilege of a lifetime is to be who you are.