Sunday, May 21 was youth Sunday at Grace Church. We honored our High School graduates and youth served as greeters, ushers, acolytes, lay readers, chalice bearers and two of them delivered homilies. Below is Delaney Williams’ take on John 14:15-21. You can also listen to an audio recording that includes the Gospel reading and both homilies. Delaney’s homily begins at about the 9:48 mark.
Good morning! For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Delaney Williams. My mom, Jennifer works in the office, and my dad, Jeff served on the Vestry.
The Gospel says, “He will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.”
I’ve been a member at Grace for 18 years, three months, and 29 days— my whole life.
I was baptized in this nave. I spent my childhood running through the halls of the office and am a proud graduate of our COG program. I spent years participating, and later volunteering, at VBS. I worked at Children of Grace as a TA during the summer. I’ve sang “Sanctuary” during more youth services and retreats than I can count. I played in the Grace flute ensemble. I was confirmed in the cathedral. I attended Annual Council. I’ve participated in the Grace Art shows. I was on the Youth Commission. I’m a member of the handbell choir. I was an acolyte and I’m a chalice bearer. I was selected to participate in the Diocese Steps to Lead Leadership conference. I’ve been elected my my peers to serve as the Senior Warden of the Youth Program and to represent the youth’s voice on the Vestry. It’s quite the mouthful, I know.
Put quite simply, Grace is my home.
Grace has helped shape me into the woman I am today— its helped shape all the youth. When I first entered the journey program, you could’ve asked anyone, and no one in a million years would ever believe that I would be standing up here today. I was shy and terrified to speak in front of anyone, even my own group. Look at me now. I’ve done a lot of growing these past couple years, I’ve learned a lot about myself and the world around me. I’ve learned how to love, hope, trust, dream. I’ve learned how to stand up for what I believe in, how to lend a voice to those who have none. I’ve learned how to trust in myself and Him, and I owe it all to the youth program.
I owe it to the leaders past and present and all the youth who’ve ever been in the program. I especially owe it to Jason, Janet, my dad, Louisa, Sara, William, Cameron, Julia, Josh, Victoria. You’ve all taught me so much.
I’m going to miss our YAC attacks, our coffee meetings, and our Christmas parties. For some of us—well I guess most of us—we’ve literally grown up together. From arguing on the playground over power rangers, to freezing in DC, to our sunrise service in Wyoming—God has shown me His love through you. This journey that we are on, we’re on together. All the trials and the hardships we face, we face together, no matter how far apart we are. And Grace has given us a place where we can do that.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus says he will not leave us orphaned and promises us the Holy Spirit. He says if we keep his commandments and love Him, we will be loved by him and the Father in return.
The past couple months, the youth have talking about where we’d like to see the program grow. There have been a lot of changes, and we still have a lot to learn. We’ve had our fair share of disagreements. But, the one thing we’ve agreed on is a motto of sorts, “love god and love each other.” It’s fitting: we love others best when we love God most. I’ve loved Grace, and Grace has loved me. We will always be a part of each other, you and I. We’re like one big patchwork quilt, sewn together through years of loving each other. I struggled writing this, because how could I possibly express the entirety of my love for Grace?
In 10 days, I’ll be graduating from North Forsyth High School. In two months, I’ll be a member of the Honor’s program at the University of Georgia (go dawgs), with an intended major in Graphic Design. Athens may be the place I live for the next four years, but Grace and her youth program will always be my home.
I know you, because you abide with me and will be in me forever. Amen
May 21, 2017