Blessing for Graduating High School Seniors & Their Parents
Mary Beth: Good morning and welcome to our Senior Blessing Milestone. My name is Mary Beth Abplanalp and I am privileged to direct the youth ministry at St. James’s. Today we recognize our graduating high school seniors and their parents as they approach a new season of life. As members of the Body of Christ we are all so interconnected by the Holy Spirit that a transition for one member’s life affects the whole Christian community. For that reason, I’ve invited past and present members of the St. James’s community to join me today as we lift you up in prayer.
Chris and Whitney: Throughout life’s journey we encounter moments of change that call us to grow. In the lives of Jesus and his followers, we note major life transitions that made prophets out of carpenters, disciples out of fisherman, and evangelists out of broken people. In most cases, these events were witnessed by and celebrated in the company of seekers, revelers, clerics, and skeptics. Many of these people were then drawn into an ever-widening community of companionship.
Becky: When Jesus was 12, he and his parents travelled to Jerusalem for Passover with a big group of their relatives. During this trip, Jesus became separated from his parents. His parents found him three days later teaching the elders in the Temple.
Alex: The gospel of Luke tells the story like this: “Jesus said to his parents, “Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he said to them. Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. His mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor.”
Hilary: Jesus’s passage from childhood dependency into a new independence was witnessed and supported by the community he was with. Class of 2020, you have blessed St. James’s by your presence among us and through your gifts of ministry. It has been such an honor to watch you grow and discover your gifts for ministry. The pandemic has helped many of us remember that the church is not just a building. You are the church. We send you forth today to be God’s church in the world.
Dana: Let’s revisit the story of Jesus teaching in the temple. It mentions how Mary and Joseph were worried about Jesus while he was missing. But they found him exactly where he needed to be, “In his Father’s house.” Even at a young age, Jesus knew who he was and was preparing himself for his earthly ministry. As a child prepares to spread his or her wings, it is a significant moment for the entire family.
Bob: Parents of graduates, we lift you up in prayer as your child enters a new season of life. This too is a new beginning for you that comes with loss and joy. We celebrate you for raising your children well and teaching them the faith. Throughout this transition, and as you discover new ways of understanding one another, we trust God remains faithful and his love is ever constant.
Mark Cooper: As children of God, we are constantly being called to new life, to be reborn in the image of a God whose love for us is eternal. Change, then, is inevitable in the lives of God’s people. Often, though, we resist those changes and fall back on the safety of the familiar. Or, as is the case this year, everything which is familiar and anticipated has been taken away. The pandemic has dismantled so much of your senior year and leaves so much of the future yet unknown.
Ann: And yet, as Christians, we know the story does not end on Good Friday. Even amid the brokenness, loss, and tragedy in the world, unexpected grace and hope arrive on Easter. As Christians, we are Easter People. Through faith and trust in Christ, we can embrace the joy and the pain of change, and testify to God’s redeeming love.
Fontaine: Although your senior year does not look like you had expected, nonetheless, you stand on the threshold of adulthood. As you prepare for the next phase of your journey, St. James’s want to equip you with some gifts to accompany you along the way.
Darryl: Some of you chose to be <air quotes> “adopted” as part of our Adopt-a-Senior project. Those folks will be receiving a gift soon from a member of St. James’s. We hope this kind gesture, from someone who may be a total stranger to you, helps you feel celebrated and recognized for all your accomplishments and perseverance throughout your education.
Pim: All members of the class of 2020 will be receiving a small book of prayers from the youth ministry at St. James’s. This book of prayers is specifically designed for young people and they types of things this season of life entails. We hope you’ll take this book with you to college along with the Book of Common Prayer you received at your confirmation.
Kent: Keep these with you and use them often to remain grounded in your faith. Let them be a reminder that your church family loves you, we will be praying for you, and we look forward to your visits home.
Lauren: Where ever you are headed next, be it college, the workforce, or perhaps a gap year, we encourage you to find a community of faith. Jesus promises that when two or three are gathered, he will be with them. We are called to worship and experience God through community, even during a pandemic.
Clare: But before you go anywhere just yet, we want to thank you for the laughter, the fellowship, and the ministry you have shared with us. As you venture into adulthood, we pray you make decisions that honor your body, your spirit, and your relationships, because God made you in God’s image.
Russell: We thank you for the opportunity to walk beside you in witness of your journey into maturity. It has been our honor and delight to swing hammers beside you on mission trips, and watch you develop compassion for all your neighbors.
Mark & Virginia: We want to especially thank our youth choristers and acolytes for the ministry you’ve shared with all of us at St. James’s. What a joy to sings hymns together in worship and to serve together at God’s altar. Remember the gifts God has given all of you and use them to bless others.
Randy: Be gentle, kind, and patient with yourselves and with each other as you discover new boundaries in your relationship between parent and child. We pray that God will give you the determination and wisdom to foster new relationships that will help to strengthen and sustain your faith. Remember your baptismal vow to respect the dignity of every human being, including yourself.
Carmen: Just as Jesus commissioned the disciples to go forth and spread the love of God throughout the world, so do we commission you to do the same through the way you live your life. We pray that you will be generous and compassionate as you serve Christ in this world.
John: Let us pray. Almighty God, source of every blessing: We thank you for the beauty and mystery of growing up, the transformation of body, mind, and spirit that brings children to adulthood. Give these parents and young people grace and courage, patience and good humor, respect and compassion, hope and love. Help them remember that life is short, so be quick to be kind, make haste to love, and may the blessing of God Almighty: The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, be with you today, tomorrow, and for evermore. Amen.
MEMBERS OF THE CLASS OF 2020
Anne Gamble Jennings
Andrew Kauders III
John Larus III
Anne Heaton Noble
Hank Valentine IV
Mary Lib Warner
LITURGY SPEAKERS AND THEIR ROLE
Mary Beth Abplanalp (Director of Youth Ministry)
Chris Edwards (Former Director of Youth Ministry)
Whitney Edwards (Former Associate Rector)
Becky Page (Director of Children’s Ministry)
Alex Riffee (Former Director of Youth Ministry & Associate Rector)
Hilary Streever (Associate Rector)
Dana Corsello (Former Associate Rector)
Bob Friend (Priest Associate)
Mark Cooper (Priest Associate)
Ann Dieterle (Former Associate Rector)
Fontaine Williamson (Confirmation Leader)
Darryl Ricard (SYF Youth Group Leader)
Pim Jager (Former Confirmation Leader)
Kent Duffey (Former Youth Mini-Mission Leader & Children’s Ministry Director)
Lauren Richardson (SYF Youth Group Leader)
Clare Trow (SYF Youth Group Leader)
Russell Lawson (Former Youth Mission Leader)
Mark Whitmire (Director of Music)
Virginia Whitmire (Organist)
Randy Hollerith (Former Rector)
Carmen Germino (Former Associate Rector)
John McCard (Rector)