May 17, 2020

2020 Senior Sermons

God has placed an ancient dream in our midst that together we might love the Lord our God with all our heart and mind and soul and strength. And that we might love our neighbors as ourselves.

God has placed an ancient dream in our midst that we might do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with our Lord.

God has placed an ancient dream in our heart, that children might worship alongside people of every generation, so that God might oil the hinges of our hearts anew.

God has placed an ancient dream in our midst that young people might lead and love as equal partners in the work of the church.

Today Children lead worship from their own homes as we worship from our homes. We remember again that the Lord is our shepherd, that nothing is impossible for God, nothing in life nor in death can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus, there is peace that passes understanding, and has been there all along.

Hello I'm Elsa Holling. Since my baptism up three months old—my communion—now Kenilworth Union Church has been my home. Kenilworth Union Church is a united community made up of several distinct communities. As my aging interest progressed, I always found a new community within the KUC community.

The first community I was a part of at the church was A Joyful Noise. I still remember the Christian stories told me on the multicolored rug every day, the arts and crafts that are still stored in my basement, and my favorite part of A Joyful Noise, the playground. The memories are the only things I retained from that age but the KUC people were what made this experience memorable.

The second community I remember being a part of here at church is the music community. From rejoice to youth choir, singing Sunday mornings connected me to my faith, the congregation, and helped me form relationships with other church members within the choir. Along with participating in the choir I was fortunate to have weekly 40-minute piano lessons with Lisa Bond that progressed from fourth grade into high school.

Apart from learning piano, what drew me back every week, was Lisa's Bond's presence and words. Sometimes the forty minutes would pass and not a single piano book was opened. These lessons taught me the most. She listened to me, answered my questions regarding faith, and taught me how to pray. The music community Lisa Bond made for me at the church is something I will forever be grateful for despite my troubling voice and my trying piano skills.

The next community I experienced was IMPACT. IMPACT isn't only the summer mission trip that takes place the first week of each summer but it is a place where over a hundred high school students can go every other Sunday night and feel like themselves. There are no social groups in the IMPACT family. There is no judgement and everyone is appreciated for exactly who they are.

This is the community that makes me truly feel truly free and therefore happiest. And that's do the incredible work of Silvi Pirn with help from Katie Lancaster. Silvi has set standards of acceptance in this community which allows for all of us to thrive in the comfort of who we are. Katie and Silvi's preaching words are adjusted to the perspective of us growing teens, allowing us to connect with not only the IMPACT community, but the church community.

I know that wherever my road of faith may lead me as I enter college and progress into the real world the KUC community will always welcome me with open arms. So I thank KUC for not only being a support system I can always rely on, but for giving me the opportunity to be a part of a community, and teaching me how true acceptance feels.

A passage from Romans12:4: "For justice each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function. So in Christ we, though many, form one body and each member belongs to all the others."

This is exactly what KUC taught me, regardless of my work with music or IMPACT will continue. The communities at KUC showed me the power of uniting with others in Christ and the sense of belonging that comes from it.

Whitton Gardiner and Audrey McVicar

Whitton: Hey KUC, I'm Whitton Gardiner and I'm here with Audrey McVicar. So, Audrey and I met in our kindergarten class at Crow Island in the block section where we were playing with blocks and we instantly became friends and we were always hanging out until middle school. Now, in middle school, we kind of separated, which we don't really know why. I was kind of hanging out with my other friends and I really never hung out with Audrey a lot in middle school. Now Audrey also has a twin brother, Eddie, who I spent a lot of time with in middle school rather than hanging out with Audrey.

Audrey: And I would see Whitton at school all the time or at our house hanging out with Eddie because they were friends during middle school and junior high, but sooner or later freshman year started and we both started volunteering as core high school helpers on Wednesday nights for 7th and 8th grade youth group, and doing IMPACT on Sunday nights.

Whitton: So we started hanging out more at church, talking more, and realized that we've kind of been missing each other and missing hanging out.

Audrey: And we would really like to thank KUC for bringing our friendship back. They are always there for us and all of the teenagers in the area. KUC not only brought my best friend back into my life, but has taught us so many things.

Whitton: KUC has taught us to give back to others.

Audrey: KUC has taught us that you are never alone.

Whitton: KUC has taught us that it's okay to be open and vulnerable.

Audrey: KUC has taught us that there are always people who care about or are willing to help you.

Whitton: KUC has taught us how to deal with pain in our community.

Audrey: Shout-out to Silvi, Katie…

Whitton: …and all of KUC for the last four years.

Audrey: Thank you.

Whitton: Thank you.

Sam Nahrwold—KUC has a special way of bringing people together. I remember when I was younger going to Wednesday night youth group. We did the cereal-shooting contest, where you put a piece of Kix cereal up your nose, plug the other nostril, and blew hard to launch as far as you could. I remember me and Bev Kirk, one of the adult leaders, had the longest launch. Something so silly and absurd brought me closer to Bev, who ended up being my confirmation mentor, and closer to my KUC friends. It also made KUC, which at the time sometimes felt very sacred and serious, feel more comfortable, fun, and familiar. To this day, Bev still helps with the youth group, and she regularly asks me to come back as the reigning Kix cereal champion to show the other kids how it's done.

My life at KUC started as a baby when I was baptized. Then I progressed to A Joyful Noise preschool where I got to hang out kids who I remain very close friends with today. Soon after I joined choir, attending memorable retreats led by Lisa Bond. My time in choir also resulted in a solo during the famous Lessons and Carols service. I sang the intro to "Once in Royal David's City" and my family still requests I sing it every year at Christmas, an offer I usually turn down, but it remains a special memory.

Fast forward to high school. All of you have probably heard of the amazing mission trips that KUC offers. I highly recommend the trips to any youth as they opened my eyes to different cultures, people, and I created new and stronger friendships. I have been on two trips, Cuba and Colombia, and I'm really hoping we can still go to the Bahamas this summer. While we go on the trips to serve others and help those in need, it really helps us too. Everyone in the IMPACT group seems very friendly and outgoing 24/7. Despite the hard work, it is very refreshing to experience a week without the usual high school stress. When we spend a week putting others before ourselves, it is amazing how we are living those early bible stories we learned in Sunday school. I know I always feel like a better person when I return home.

My faith has become strongest through the interaction with fellow KUC members. When I thought about speaking today, I looked back on my confirmation bible that Katie Lancaster presented to me my freshman year. She chose a bible verse for each confirmand that is written on the inside cover. The passage she chose for me is from James 1:17: "Every good gift, every perfect gift, comes from above. These gifts come down from the father, the creator of the heavenly lights, and in whose character there is no change at all." Now, about four years later, I think about this verse, and I know that KUC has been a gift to me, a gift from God, in which I am surrounded by people who care about me, and friendships I have made through serving others, and for the faith that continues to grow each day. Also, in my confirmation bible I found a note given to me from Bev. She sums it up best: "Please remember that the most important thing about a church is that it is a group of people banded together to help each other and to help the wider world. It is not a beautiful building or a fancy preacher or lovely music, even though those things are nice. It is not some abstruse theological set of beliefs. Nope, it's just a bunch of medium, smart, loving human beings doing their very best to love and care for each other and do good in the world."

Hello, everybody. My name is Jeffrey Urban and I've been a part of the Kenilworth Union Church family ever since I can remember. From being baptized by Dr. Bowen just over 18 years ago to touching the lives of many across the world alongside the IMPACT community, I can truly say that I am thankful to be part of such a great group of people.

From a young age, my parents Kim and Jeff instilled into me that KUC is a place where I could start my faith and create meaningful relationships. As I continued through Sunday school, I found myself bonding with fellow students, most of whom I know today at New Trier, with teachers, parents, and many others who helped lay the foundation for my faith.

Every once in a while, my sisters and I were allowed to sit and listen to Dr. Bowen as he enlightened many in the "big church," as we called it. Throughout the years I was taught many lessons that guided me in the right direction and helped me develop into who I am today. However, I didn't truly know what that would mean to me quite yet. I didn't know how I could take my faith and apply it to the real world, until I joined IMPACT. Seeing my two older sisters go on IMPACT trips before me, I knew that one day I would be in the same position. From day one, I felt comfortable in amidst a group of many strangers, or so they seemed to be due to everyone's welcoming presence. Thank you to Silvi, Katie, and all the adult leaders for making KUC and IMPACT such a great experience. The countless times where we helped those in need, such as running youth groups in foreign communities or writing letters to church members away at college, allowed us to find a passion to serve others. After going to Belize and Cuba, I realized that both those trips were always the highlight of my summer, no matter how sick I got. Working and devoting a week of our lives in order to help and support communities who need it gave myself and many others a much greater perspective on the world.

I want to say thank you to all the members who have made the KUC community a special one. Also to my parents, who took and sometimes dragged me to church on Sundays. They laid the foundation down for my siblings and I to create meaningful relationships as we grew older. I hope that we can head down to the Bahamas later this year, or anywhere else, but if not, I'm grateful and proud of my KUC experience so far, and I hope to continue it for years to come. Thank you.