A Sermon for the First Sunday after Pentecost: Trinity Sunday

Sunday, June 12, 2022

By: Perrin Gilman, Graduating High School Senior, Class of 2022

Four years ago, I thought that I would follow the traditional school pathway in my area from Tuckahoe Elementary, to Tuckahoe Middle, and lastly, to Douglas Southall Freeman High School. As a shy eighth grader, I had to make the difficult decision between going to Trinity Episcopal School or going to Freeman. I was torn between the two because if I went to Freeman, I would be comfortable as I would be going to school with people I grew up with throughout my entire life. On the other hand, at Trinity, I would have been immersed in a smaller academic setting that would also allow me to branch out. It’s funny how it all played out because the last time I gave a sermon here at St. Mary’s, I noted that I officially made my decision to go to Trinity. And now I’m here, a Trinity alum, delivering yet another sermon about my future.

Now, why am I telling you this, you may ask? My decision between Freeman and Trinity was a difficult one. Going out of my comfort zone to go to Trinity was a big step for me. As I wrote in my sermon from 4 years ago, I stated, “God knows where we will end up, but we need to take the right path to get there.” Going to Trinity meant that I had to leave all of the people that I’ve gone to school with for the past 9 years. These people supported me, held me up, and shaped me as a young person. I couldn’t imagine leaving all of that behind, but I did. I knew that when I walked through the doors at Trinity on the first day of school, I was going to feel alone. Was I really alone, though? No I was not. God was right by my side, guiding me down this new and unexplored path that would ultimately impact my future. So, I am telling you this because I now know that God is with you as you make difficult decisions and will also be there for you as they unfold.

If I were to tell you that my high school experience was full of sunshine and rainbows, I would be lying. This big step out of my comfort zone was full of many new academic and social challenges, but I persevered. I discovered my passion for leadership, public speaking, and even enrolled and excelled in the International Baccalaureate Program. I realized that God led me to Trinity for a reason, and little did I know that this very reason would guide me to my next chapter in my life story.

In John chapter 16; verse 13, Jesus said to his disciples, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.” Based on my unexpected yet exciting new path, I discovered my own truth while at Trinity: I wouldn’t be the person I am today without it. Throughout my high school decision and journey, I learned that life is not just one straight path. It is made up of many twists, turns, and bumps along the way; but in the end, the truth is revealed that makes it all worth it. My “things that are to come” are starting a new chapter in Fort Worth, Texas in the Fall. I will be attending Texas Christian University while majoring in Strategic Communications. It’s safe to say that my passions that I discovered at Trinity led me to this point.

Now I have come to really believe that I was meant to go to TCU from the get-go. Everyone said that there is this “feeling” that you get when you find the right college, and what do you know: right when I stepped foot on TCU’s campus during my tour last May, I immediately knew that TCU was the place for me. I had never been so certain about something in my life, which was a new feeling for me since I previously struggled when choosing between two high schools. Fast forward to application deadlines… I applied early decision to TCU, and this past December, I officially became a Horned Frog!

I didn’t fully understand the significance of choosing Trinity as my high school until recently. Signs directing me to my path to TCU began appearing. I soon found out that the TRINITY River runs right through Fort Worth. If this wasn’t fate, I didn’t know what was. As the Trinity River flows through Fort Worth, I will always be reminded that Trinity Episocpal School led me to TCU. As the song “Texas” by George Strait says: “Fort Worth would never cross my mind” if it wasn’t for Trinity.

Once again, like my high school decision, I am taking a big step out of my comfort zone. I am going halfway across the country for college, but this time, I know how to handle being outside of my comfort zone. I know that breaking the “norm” and living outside of the box can only make me stronger and allow me to pursue my passions. I also realize that I will have many more opportunities to live outside of my comfort zone in college and well beyond. I am hoping that my story of breaking the norm inspires you to go out of your own comfort zone. No matter where you are in your life, I challenge you to spread your wings and go outside of the norm and make your impact on the world because God is with you, every step of the way.

Amen.

A Sermon for the Seventh Sunday of Easter

Sunday, May 29, 2022

By: David May, Rector

 

A few years ago I was sitting in the conference room of Macedonia Baptist Church on the Northern Neck waiting for a board meeting to begin. It was an excellent board with really lovely, inspiring people; people whom I thought of as my friends as much as anything else. The work we did together helped create programs through a community development organization that was making lives better in real ways. And it was also the only board I sat on that had Black people and white people sitting around the table making decisions together for our community. So it was a deeply gratifying and joyous group to be a part of.

But in the chit chat and checking in conversations going on before the meeting started, I felt sort of disconnected and not so joyous. My mind was working on some things that it had been working on for weeks but just couldn’t seem to figure out. It was like…well…have you ever tried to untangle a wad of tangled fishing line where the harder you try the worse it gets? I think that is sort of where I was with these things my mind has been working on: just ruminating and ruminating and getting nowhere. I was mostly the poster child for proverbial cat chasing its tail, truth be told.

Then a member of the board swept into the room full of enthusiasm and energy. “Someone get me something to eat before I perish!” she said. Her name was Carolyn Hines and she has since gone to glory. Caroline was a Black woman, a Ph.D., and a consultant who travelled up and down the east coast doing strategic planning for corporations and universities. But mostly what she was was a daughter of the Kingdom of God, a disciple of Jesus, who acted that way with every breath.

She came to the seat next to me to sit but first hugged my neck and said, “I love that you’re here and I love you!” I whispered, “I love you too.” She said, “well, of course you do!”

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A Sermon for the Sixth Sunday of Easter

Sunday, May 22, 2022

By: Eleanor Wellford, Priest Associate

 

How many times has something unusual happened to you and you’ve thought – hmmm…what was that about? Maybe it was just a coincidence or good luck or being at the right place at the right time – or – maybe there was something else at work.

So, see what you think about this. On a hot day in the middle of July, two people meet for the very first time on a public tennis court in Fort Collins, Colorado. One was from Richmond, Va and the other one from Boulder Colorado. Two years later they were married in Bath County, Virginia. What was at work for the two of them to be at that tennis park at the same time?

One of the tennis players was my daughter, Beth and she had a best friend from college named Haley who lived in Fort Collins, Colorado. When Haley became engaged, she asked Beth to be in her wedding in early June of 2017. Instead of traveling to Fort Collins just for the wedding, Beth thought – for some reason – that it would be fun to stay there for the summer. But where would she stay? Since Colorado State University is in Fort Collins, she thought that there might be a student there looking to sublet an apartment. Well, there was and she did. Her lease started in June.

The other tennis player in this story is Devin Copenhaver. How did he happen to be in Fort Collins in mid-July? Well, after he graduated from college, he went to work in San Francisco for a start up. Devin had always wanted to travel to India, and in the summer of 2017, he went there with the idea of working remotely for a couple of months. For reasons that he still doesn’t understand, he decided to leave India early and come back to Boulder where his parents lived. That put him there in early July.

Boulder and Fort Collins are about 50 miles apart – which is significant. So, how did Beth and Devin get together? Well, there’s this dating app called Tinder. After the wedding, Haley set Beth up on it as a way to meet people. At just about the same time, Devin put himself on that app.

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A Sermon for the Fifth Sunday of Easter

Sunday, May 15, 2022

By: Amelia McDaniel, Lay Associate for Christian Formation

 

This is a season full of graduation speeches. So many parting last words are offered to young people to send them off into their newest academic pursuit or off into the world at large. I’m sure you’ve been to your fair share of these speeches. You may also have had more heart felt kitchen table conversations with beloved young ones as they were setting off themselves.

The night before I left for school my parents awkwardly tried to tell me everything that they thought I needed to know. Don’t walk alone at night. Make new friends. Lock your door. Don’t take a drink at a party if you didn’t see who poured it. Challenge yourself. Don’t see a bad grade as a failure but a chance to try again. You know. Good stuff. My dad closed the whole session out by saying while looking not at me but at his shoes that naked was nobody’s best state. Parting words indeed.

There are so many things to tell people as they set off on new journeys. And they range from specifics to broad brushstroke ideas of how to live in this life.

Today’s readings are leading us up to the end of Eastertide. Pentecost comes in two more weeks and the church and all of us followers of Jesus are launched into a new reality. And there is an urgency in the tone of both of the readings from today. There are things we need to know.

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