How many of you have seen the movie – The Breakfast Club?
The Breakfast Club opened in 1985. Directed by John Hughes, at that time, the movie was to be considered one of the best coming-of-age teenage movies. The movie follows five teenagers who spend a Saturday together in school detention. Although they attend the same school, each hangs out with a different crowd. One student is considered a jock, another, somewhat of a nerd, a third is perceived to be the perfect student, and the other two students are seen as outsiders. Each of the five is trying to fit into a world that is constantly changing and dealing with lofty expectations from parents and teachers. As they spend the day together arguing, listening, hanging out, and getting into some trouble, they discover they have more similarities than differences and learn they are not alone…something has bonded them. They are entering into what I call a “new beginning,” where life sends you on unexpected, unplanned paths, where outcomes are still to be experienced and not yet known.
As I was reflecting on this morning’s Gospel, I thought about those five teenagers and how the experiences of the twelve apostles are possibly related. Although the comparison is not exactly, apples to apples, as the apostles are not in detention, they, too, are struggling. They are struggling with their own identity and the changes that await them. Jesus is trying to prepare them for a life without Him on earth and, eventually, an ascended life with Him and His Father in Heaven. However, the apostles are not really listening, and when they do, Jesus’ farewell leaves them confused, lost, and not sure how they are going to fit into a world with no Jesus. They pepper Jesus with questions or statements: “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way? Lord, show us the Father and we will be satisfied!” Jesus even shows his irritation with Phillip: “Have I been with you all this time, Phillip, and you still do not know me?” Yet, in spite of this rebuke, the words in John’s Gospel portray a Jesus conveying a message that is comforting, full of hope, promise and plain with little mincing of what’s soon to take place…his crucifixion, resurrection and ascension. The apostles’ lives are changing….they’re entering into their “new beginning” and they are bonded by their love and, a sense of loss, for Jesus.
Many of you this morning are entering into your own “new beginning”. Aubrey, Jorleny, Maggie and Nawaf, you have five days left as seniors at St. Stephen’s Episcopal School. You will be the 16th high school graduating class from St. Stephen’s, and its last. New starts, new lives, new adventures await in Morgantown, WV, Tuscaloosa, AL, Portland, OR and Waco, TX. In the fall, others of you will be attending new schools, or moving up to a new grade level here at St. Stephen’s and some of our faculty will be in new jobs or exploring new areas of professional and personal interests.
So, at this moment in time, what can we carry from a movie, or John’s Gospel, that depict teenage or adult angst, loss and change? In my almost seven years at St. Stephen’s School and my twenty-three years as a member of this Church, I believe we all will carry a “spirit”, that one family I know often says, “Oh, that’s so St. Stephen’s!” A bonding spirit composed of memories, friendships, relationships, community, experiences both good and not so, and, hopefully, in time, a sense of peace; a spirit that does not change, even when a church or a school are going through their own “new beginnings”. Just as Jesus said, “I go before you to pave the way,” that St. Stephen’s spirit, that bond, goes with you along your paths. And, in celebration of that spirit, we’ve compiled a short video to remember this year. I wish you a wonderful and safe summer. May your “new beginning” be filled with whatever you hope it to be. God bless you!
David B. Coe, M.S., M.B.A
Head of School | St. Stephen’s Episcopal School-Houston