Monday, May 24, 2010

Graduating from High School

Yesterday was a big day at Bethel. It was graduation Sunday and we recognized our high school graduates. Some people are saying that high school graduation doesn’t mean what it used to since many (most) high school graduates now go on to College. I don’t agree. High School graduation is as important as ever. You have to go this far to go farther.

A staff member recently told me that she was going to her grandson’s graduation from sixth grade. I can remember several such commencement ceremonies for our children.

Graduation from high school is an important marker. It is still a worthy achievement to celebrate. It means that our young people have attained a certain amount of knowledge. They have grown to a certain place in their lives. They are now ready for adulthood. Around eighteen years of age, they are moving closer to the time when they will be “on their own.”

So, we marched them into the church to Pomp and Circumstance and sat them on the front pew. There they were in all their beauty, all shined up for the day. The night before, we had a wonderful evening “roasting” them with family and friends. It was a gentle roast as family and friends tried to say something embarrassing about the graduate, and all said something nice.

There they were on the front pew. Parents and grandparents, brothers and sisters, uncles and aunts, and many others were surrounding them. It is always a time when emotions run high. Parents are going between “I can’t believe I’m old enough to have a high school graduate” and “my baby is leaving me.”

The graduates? I can’t remember very much about what it was like when I graduated from high school back in the dark ages. I do remember thinking: “What’s the big deal?” I saw my mother crying and people were congratulating me. I was eighteen, for God’s sake, this was just the beginning. Our graduates seemed to genuinely appreciate all the love and support that we could give them.

I’ve been at Bethel for four years and this is the first group that I have seen go all the way through high school. It was for me a fun time.

In my sermon I quoted a comment made by Maya Angelou to a University graduation class. She said something like: “We’ve given you the best education that we can give you. We’ve taught you all that we know. We gave you all our wisdom.” Then she said: “You owe us something…”

I told them that they owed us. Since so much has been given to them I challenged them to live grateful lives in three ways. I told them to honor their past, to live in the present, and to walk confidently into the future.

As Christians, we are so blessed. We are blessed not to sit around and relish being blessed but so we can go out into the world to bless others. I challenged them to remember that no matter what degrees they achieved or what careers they chose, that they are called to be servants of Jesus Christ.

After worship, we stood them up there and everybody went by to wish them well. Then, we gathered in the Fellowship Hall for lunch. It was truly a wonderful day.

God speed them on their journey.
See you in church!
Dave Nichols

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Thanks for checking out my blog. I'm new to this, as you can probably see. But, I, like you, have convictions and ideas worth sharing. I hope this will be an opportunity to connect with others who are Christian and/or religious. I am happily United Methodist. I am committed to the basic teachings of our church, and to the compassionate outreach to the world.

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A graduate of Newberry College and Duke University Divinity School.  I have served as a pastor in the United Methodist Church since 1975.

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