In June, Nativity will welcome the Rev. Phillip Parker, freshly-graduated from the Episcopal Seminary of the Southwest in Austin, as a part-time Priest Associate and Youth Minister at Nativity.
One of the constants in my life in the Episcopal Church has been the springtime tradition of Youth Sunday. We did it growing up at St. Peter’s, Oxford; as a youth minister at St. Philip’s, Jackson, it was my job to corral the EYC into the roles of usher, preacher, etc.; and at Nativity, Youth Sunday remains a must-see event.
This year, Youth Sunday falls on May 14, and as usual, our young people will help carry the roles of lector, usher, and intercessor at the 10:30 service. Their presence around the altar will remind us, if we’ve forgotten, that the Church is much broader than the boring grown folk who sit in vestry meetings. Each of us – from screaming infant to senior warden – is as essential to this church family as the next. Youth Sunday reminds us of this.
Our custom at Nativity is to celebrate Youth Sunday the Sunday before graduation, which almost always falls on Mother’s Day. And because the task of preaching typically falls to a senior, our Youth Sunday sermon is often an occasion for graduating students to thank their mothers, the congregation, and others. Nonetheless, what I most look forward to in these youth sermons is hearing how our young people read, interpret, and connect the scripture of the day with their experience and life of our church family.
This year, we don’t have any Nativity seniors. Evan Lindsay is a regular at EYC, but he’s a member of Church of the Advent, Sumner. When the issue of preaching came up, this presented a problem for a moment, until finally we decided: we don’t need a graduate; we need a preacher! I am grateful that Ellie Knight accepted my invitation to preach to us on May 14. Perhaps all of you know Ellie already, but what you might not know is that she’s already taking up the mantle of church leadership, serving on Happening Staff this March. I am thrilled to hear how she wrestles with scripture, and what word of encouragement she brings from it to us.
One of the great gifts of this church family is the way that it raises up young leaders, nurturing them in the faith, and then sending them out into the world to love and serve the Lord. I look forward to celebrating them with you in a few weeks!