High School Senior Sermon June 2017

Sunday June 11, 2017

St. James Episcopal – Sermon preached by Kaitlin Griffin, High School Graduate Class of 2017.

Good Morning.  My name is Kaitlin Griffin.  I am known as the youngest member of the Griffin family or America’s sweetheart to a small few.

As my graduation date approaches so does the end of my adolescence.  So, I would like to acknowledge the last days of my childhood by preaching about…me.  And of course, the great presence this church has on my life.  But first me…

I just finished an internship working for a production company that produces a show called The Kitchen which appears on Food Network.  This internship was a perfect experience before I start class in the fall at Emerson College, where I plan to major in film production.

Producing for a show is very similar to producing a service at St. James.  Many elements are needed to create a successful service:

                One of the clergy has to write a sermon

                Bulletins must be made

                An acolyte schedule must be set up

                And the altar must be prepared.

Then hopefully everyone shows up!

Being an acolyte is like being on a set for a film.  The acolyte helps to carry the show along.  I love being an acolyte, because I feel like a part of something.  And I love being a part of the community of St. James.  I have listened to sermons almost every week since I was in sixth grade and I found then inspiring…Most times!

Many of the sermons I would hear from Reverend Melissa and Reverend Audrey contain messages of kindness.  I may question the existence of God but I believe that the Bible holds morals for humankind to live by.  And I am so incredibly grateful that my church’s community is one where I can feel comfortable saying that.  I have been very pleased with how progressive and open minded this community is.  The clergy’s kindness has been my inspiration to hold the Bible’s lessons as virtues.

I started my education as a Can-do Kid in St. James pre-school and from there learned the strength of honesty, loyalty, and justice.  I hold these values to this day and I hate to imagine a time that I would forget these values.

I question my faith in a God that I am told lives up in the clouds; but my belief in justice is certain.

My first introduction to engaging in civil rights issues occurred through the small learning community at Montclair High School, the Center for Social Justice.  We students call it the CSJ.

My experience in the CSJ community emphasized the importance of the same values I learned at St. James, honesty, loyalty and justice.  Our efforts were specifically focused on equity for those with less privilege than myself and others in society. The students of CSJ are well informed about different minority groups that are isolated by the fear that comes when people are seen as “other”.

I feel as though the biblical rule of “love your neighbor as you love yourself” is not taken as seriously as it should be.  I believe the quote is one of the wisest pieces of advice anyone can give.  Why treat anyone differently than how you would want to be treated?

In this day and age, we have seen too many threats against religious groups from other so-called people of faith.  Many of these conflicts are between religions that hold similar roots.  The Jewish faith, Christianity and Islam have many common beliefs that span all three religions.

 One of these similarities is this.  The Bible is clear that we should live lives of kindness and grace.  There is no place in scripture that justifies hatred and oppression. 

Our church community embraces these values which create a positive and welcoming place at St. James.  This is possible with the clergy’s willingness to listen.  But more importantly, the congregation’s willingness to understand the benefits of kindness.

In closing, I would like to thank you all for making this church so welcoming and understanding of others.  As I leave the comforts of my home and church to go to college I will continue to struggle with what I believe to be true about the nature of God.  I am grateful that you have given me the strength and the courage to seek my own truth.

I am certainly proud to be a member of the St. James Episcopal Church.  And I will carry with me what you have taught me as I step away and out into the world!