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8:00 a.m. Holy Eucharist
(with hymns, no choir)

10:00 a.m. Holy Eucharist
(with full choir, hymns)

7:00 a.m. Holy Eucharist

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Christ Church

Our church, restrooms and meeting space are handicap accessible.

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Senior Sermon
A sermon preached by Janel Romagnoli, Andover High School Class of 2014, on May 18, 2014

Good morning everyone. For all newcomers present today, welcome to Christ Church. As a graduating senior, I have been a member of this church for almost seven years. Over the past seven years with the Episcopal Church, I have been to El Salvador, held a talent show, participated in many fundraisers, and have been confirmed. I have made many connections with people and many memories with them. Looking back over the past seven years, I would say my true start to my faith and my spiritual journey as a youth in the church was a mission trip taken to Washington D.C. about three years ago. For a week, Mr. Lennon and Mrs. Donovan took my brother, his youth group members, and me down to D.C. where we stayed in a church and for a week served the homeless community. We were joined in that church by a very large group of kids from Florida and New York. There were eight of us and probably over 30 of them. Surprisingly, even though there were so many of them, we were able to make friends with a few of them. Over the week, we weren’t just sitting with our church group, but were mixing with the other group. I found it very interesting that people coming from three different states, never having met each other before, not knowing if they had anything in common, could come together and mix so easily. Looking back at that week, there was something we had in common without having to even ask: we were all there as servants of Christ. We came from different parts of the country; we were completely different people; but we shared the same faith, the very thing that had brought us together that week.

The next summer, I left my annual two-week family vacation to New Hampshire a week early to join my YLA group on a mission trip to El Salvador. I have spoken about this trip before. I left my friends and family from home to venture to a country I have never been to with a group of kids I had only known for a year. It was tough having to leave, but I knew I would be okay and that going on this trip would lead me to grow in my faith. One day of that week, we were on the bus and I ended up sitting next to Bishop Tom Shaw. I had never really spoken to him that much, but I knew he was nice. He started up a conversation with me about what I had done earlier in the summer. I had told him about my trip to Italy with Treble Chorus, scheduled the same week as my J2A group’s pilgrimage to Alaska. I told him that I was missing vacation to be on this trip so I could participate in a mission trip. After talking for a while, he asked me if I saw a difference between the kids in my YLA group and my J2A group from church and how I came to make the decision on which mission trip to attend. I thought about it and told him, “With this group, I feel like people usually want to be here. With my group at church, some kids have to go because their parents want them to.” We discussed that idea and we both found it to be interesting. We had grown close over that trip. The next May, I was lucky enough to be confirmed by Bishop Tom. Before the confirmation ceremony, everyone being confirmed met downstairs under the Cathedral in Boston. Bishop Tom went around asking some of us why we wanted to be confirmed. Toward the end of the discussion he wanted to have with us, he addressed me, asking me why I wanted to be confirmed, also wanting me to talk about the trip to El Salvador and how that inspired my faith and my desire to be confirmed. Having been put under the spotlight, I froze, not having an answer to give him and everyone else. I needed time to think about it. I cannot recall my exact words to him once they came to me, but I think they would go along the lines of what I share with you today.

Being a part of the Episcopal Church gave me a sense of community that is difficult to find anywhere else. In Washington D.C., it brought together kids from all over the U.S. who had never met before and gave them an instant connection. The church brought me to a different country with an entirely different culture and community. The church has given me friends and connections that I would most likely not make in any other environment. I stand before you all now, a member of that community that you have all decided to be a part of, either years ago, or just today. To me, being an Episcopalian means having faith in God and sharing that faith with others and growing a kind community around that faith. Many of you may not know me, or have ever seen me before in your life, but we already know something about each other and share something that we might not share with everyone else in our lives and that is our faith in God and in each other coming together to celebrate God.

I come to church to be a part of this community. I can come into church in times of dismay searching for comfort and know that I will find that comfort and support in a way that cannot be offered in just any place. I come to church in search of people I can serve with; people I can pray with; people I can share the rest of my life with, even as I venture off into the world of college. As I continue on my own path, I hope that I can come back to this community and be welcomed back with open arms and open hearts.

To all of the newcomers, welcome again to this wonderful community. Here, you will meet new people, gain new knowledge, grow in your faith, and make new memories that you will cherish forever. And if you have children, you are graciously granting them the ability to establish faith the same way that I did. They will grow into strong leaders and I hope that they will choose to be a member of this community. Maybe years from now, they will be up here the May of their senior year of high school sharing with their community the story of their faith. I want to thank all of you, whether I know you personally or not, for making the past seven years in this church memorable and worthwhile, giving me knowledge, memories, and a faith that I will cherish forever.

Last Published: May 21, 2014 10:37 AM