Youth Sunday Sermon

by Gus Hollberg, senior at R. E. Lee High School and member of Trinity

Click here to listen to an audio version of this sermon. 

As I started to write this sermon, I made a list of what Trinity has been to me. The two central themes to my list were constancy and change. Yes, these two things are paradoxical, but one describes the church while the other describes me. Trinity has been constant whereas I have been changing. In the Gospel today, Jesus also talks about constancy and change.

Trinity Episcopal Church has always been a part of my life. Some of this is due no doubt to the closeness of my house (For those who do not know, I live in the house directly across from the rectory!) Therefore, in my youth, the churchyard was a great playground where I could run around, play tag, or kick a soccer ball (mind you, with grave warnings from my parents to never kick or throw anything close to the Tiffany windows). In the winter, my siblings and I would sled and have snowball fights.  But as I grew up, I was more attracted to the inside of the church. I remember listening with rapt attention to the sermons of John Lane and the guest rectors. At first the words just flew over my head and the church was just a building that someone said was a holy place, but as the years piled up, so did Trinity creep into my bones. The phrases and rhythms of the church began to be imprinted into my brain. Now, I can more or less follow along with the service but not actually need to look at the pamphlet.

As I have grown up (and hopefully gotten more mature) my reasons for going to church have changed. When I was younger my parents used the carrot and the stick to get their brood across the street and into the church doors. Eventually, my siblings and I learned that it was in our best interest to go to church and we started to enjoy it more as we became more involved. Then when middle school started and I became busier on the weekends, I thought of church as something that merely dug into available time for homework. Now, I’m not psyched about doing homework but it’s better to do it earlier. Gradually through high school and especially this senior year, I began to see the 8:45 church service as a block of time in which I could temporarily forget my obligations to school and enjoy the company of other worshippers of God. Believe it or not I like getting up to go to church because it is a good excuse to not sleep in. Yes, I know right; I’m a teenager! I have found that a moment of peace at the beginning of my Sunday is far better than trying cram sleep.

At Trinity I have also had opportunities to meet and help other people. On the Youth Mission Trip to Honduras two years, we went to Copan and helped build the foundations for an addition to a schoolhouse. I must admit I worked mostly with the adults and did not talk to the Honduran kids very much. I enjoyed working with Oakley, Ted, and Mike Amato. The trip really opened my eyes to the value of the Church’s mission there and elsewhere. The poverty in that country is astounding yet people continue to live, work, Oftentimes just that little extra is needed to vastly improve life. Despite the apparent lack of opportunities, most of the children and adults seemed happy.

Today, I and the rest of my class are on the eve of graduation from high school. We are looking forward to the future but also remembering the good times we’ve had ‘til now. Today’s Gospel reading has elements reminiscent of the crossroads where we now stand. Just as Jesus tells the Father in the presence of the Disciples “I am no longer in the world … and I am coming to you” my fellow soon to be graduates and I will soon be leaving the familiar world of high school and Trinity and depart to colleges and life. We will always remember Trinity because it is a part of us now.

Throughout my life the church has always been there, even as I have changed. In the Gospel reading today, Jesus tells the Father to protect the disciples because he will no longer be there in physical form. Jesus recognizes that the world as they know it must change, but he ensures that God will be constant in their lives. As we leave church today remember that God will always be there for us and for me and my fellow seniors, Grace and Harrison.