October 19 was Youth Sunday at Grace Church. Members of our Journey to Adulthood youth group (grades 6-12) were greeters, ushers, readers, and musicians for the service. Following is one of two excellent homilies given that day by senior members of the group.
Please be seated. Good morning! I would first like to acknowledge the other youths working to make this service wonderful. Let’s give them a round of applause.
We need to break out of our habits and try new things.
My name is Grant Cummings and I am here with you today to share my wonderful experiences in Grace Church and the Grace Youth Group. I was born right here in Gainesville at Northeast Georgia Medical Center. Mere months later I was baptized by Doug Dailey right here in Grace. Ever since then I have made memories that will stick with me for the rest of my life. Some of the earliest memories I have are playing on the playground and playing with toy cars underneath the pews.
As I grew older I can remember asking my father if we could sit in the left side of the church to see whether it was different from the right. As Stuart has said, the 8:15 service patrons are very nice and that we should meet them, the same rule applies to the right and left side of the church. I want everybody on the left side to raise their hand and wave to the right side, and I want the right side to raise their hands and wave at the left side. See we are all the same no matter what side we sit on. After sitting on the left side I figured out it wasn’t much different from the right but a young mind is always curious. My dad would always humor me when I had curiosity on my mind.
We need break out of our habits and try new things.
As years went by I joined the youth program when I was about 10 years old and that’s when memories really started to flow in. I began in the BTJ or Beginning the Journey class and then did the usual progression through Rite 13, J2A, and finally YAC or Young Adults in Church. When children enter Rite 13 you are able to go to youth events such as lock-ins, hunger walks, and retreats to Camp Mikell. Lock-ins have always been my favorite youth event. Staying up all night playing video games, playing four square or just watching a movie in the Youth room, those are the times where I could connect with other youths, and it gives parents a break from their children. Hunger walks are also a time to connect with other youths, but we also feel good because we know we are helping a cause and we get to go to Atlanta, that’s fun for me. And then there’s Camp Mikell, I could talk for hours about Mikell but I’ll make it count. From the first time I went and got very homesick to the most recent time when we had Teddy lead us I’ve made more memories than most other places. Being a YAC we had to lead many of the prayers and group activities and that makes it even more special to me.
We need to break out of our habits and try new things.
Mikell is a place where I feel closest to God, it is such a peaceful and spiritual place for me. But it’s not just the camp, it’s the people who venture with us and the cabins that we stay in that make it that much more fun. But there was one person that made me feel the most spiritual, Patrick Kelley. He would always answer my questions about spiritual experiences and because of his positive influences I am dedicating my sermon to him. Patrick was a role model for me, he is the reason I play bass guitar in the youth group. I have always looked up to him. At his memorial service I and many if not all of my fellow classmates felt closest to God. Patrick had made such an impact on the community that the church was full at the service. Patrick if you’re listening, we all love you and miss you dearly.
I want to tell all of the youth in here that you are the future of the church. You will have the best time of your life going through the youth group, I can promise you that. Now in my last year in the youth group I can look back and remember all the times that we laughed, listened, ate, sang, prayed and I know that the friends I’ve made in this youth group will be lifelong friends. I want to end my half of the sermon by talking about pilgrimage. As many of you may know our group went to Scotland. On our journey we learned so much, and ate so much good food. We spent many hours traveling, but we had the greatest of times and all I want to do as a member of the youth group is thank you, my family, my friends, my Sunday school leaders and especially the congregation. That was just an incredible experience that I would like to thank everyone that contributed to send out our group to a foreign country. Through all of the barbecues, auctions, and cakes and casseroles you the members of the congregation allowed us to travel to Scotland and have a spiritual journey of a life time.
My time with the youth program has shown me new friends, new places, new cultures and new insights to spirituality. I have broken out my habits and tried new things.
To end my sermon I have been requested to talk about Stewardship. The theme of Stewardship is everybody counts. The more people we have to pledge the more stories and sermons will arise from the youths. With all of the support from the church, I have had experiences that I will cherish for a life time. Another thing I will always remember from the church is the pipe organ. I realized my love for music when I heard the organ for the first time, and that couldn’t have happened without the support and donations from you, the people of the church. So I want to thank you for your pledges and contributions to the church, they have made the church a better place for all people. Thank you.
Youth Sunday – October 19, 2014