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We are in the midst of graduation season. A time of celebrating the accomplishment of a lofty goal, a time of looking back on years of hard work and sacrifice to achieve that goal, a time of looking forward to the journey that lies ahead, and a time of embracing the challenges as part of that journey. It is a time when strong emotions of excitement and anxiety mix together in anticipation and hope of the great unknown.
Recently, I attended the commencement of the university on whose board I sit and where I teach a business law class. It is one of my favorite days of the year, and perhaps the only time I see an entire gymnasium full of people who are still smiling ear to ear after an hour or so of sitting, simply because of the pure joy of seeing a loved one accomplish a major milestone. As a Christian university and seminary, there are many who will head out to the mission field to become pastors and missionaries, counselors and therapists, educators and even accountants. Indeed, I have learned over the years that the mission field is anywhere God puts us and our calling is to do His will in whatever field He has gifted us in. Many will return to their countries of origin – places like South Korea, Nigeria, Indonesia, Columbia, the Middle East and Brazil – to set up orphanages, establish schools, help the poor and AIDS widows and orphans, and plant churches in what can only be called hostile environments. As the young man who addressed his own Class of 2015 wisely proclaimed, the road ahead of them will be significantly harder than the road behind. They will need perseverance, wisdom, divine guidance, and a strong faith in our loving heavenly Father to overcome the trials and challenges that none of us are immune to in this life.
As it was for many of us, ahead for most of them is not only a career for which they have attended years of schooling to equipment themselves, but also marriage with all its joys and challenges, in-laws (with all their joys and challenges), children with runny noses and skinned knees, new homes with leaky roofs, businesses that may succeed or fail, jobs that will run their course, colleagues that may or may not be co-operative, friendships that may last a lifetime or just a season, medical issues ranging from new glasses to broken bones, and a host of other life experiences for which there is no formal training.
At their age, I often wished there was an operating manual for life, an expert to consult for all the things I didn’t learn in school, and shot of courage I could have when facing foreboding obstacles. And then I discovered there is an Operating Manual, but I just hadn’t read it very thoroughly – having skipped over most of Old Testament and having made just a cursory review of the New Testament. And there is an Expert, but I just didn’t know Him all that well and, frankly, even when I did consult Him, I didn’t follow His advice all that much. And there is a burst of courage – and strength and boldness, but it is much more effective when it lives in you in Spirit, than when you drink it from a glass.
And so, for these new graduates, I wish them not only blessings, prosperity and success in their chosen field, but also the wisdom that comes only from knowing the Operating Manual; the love that comes only from knowing the Expert and author of the Operating Manual; and the courage and strength and boldness that only comes from the Spirit living in them.
And when the storms of life inevitably blow, I wish that they hold steadfast in the storm; I wish that they would know who they are; but more importantly, I wish that they would know whose they are: sons and daughters of a Heavenly King who is able to give them wisdom beyond measure, love overflowing, and more than enough courage, strength and boldness they will need for their journey.
A Graduation Blessing
As you go forth from this day, may you be strong and bold.
May Christ’s Spirit dwell within you, as with the mighty saints of old.
As you embark upon your journey, as the road opens at your feet,
May the blessings of heaven rain on you, as the course set before you, you complete.
May you be strong and courageous, may you banish all doubt and fear
For the Lord your God is with you, whether you travel far or near.
May you seek first the Lord, may you give the Lord your best.
May He direct your paths and crown your efforts with success.
May Jehovah guide your passage and be a lamp unto your way.
May His Spirit be upon you and His Wisdom ever-present stay.
May Love, Joy, Peace and Kindness be your guide.
May Patience, Gentleness and Goodness protect you from foolish pride.
May you guard your affections, may you wisely entrust your heart.
May you choose your companions carefully, true friendship may you impart.
Fearfully and wonderfully God made you – a Masterpiece, a Treasure!
May you use your gifts in fulfilling work, may your joy be without measure.
May you wisely choose your path upon which the great saints have trod.
May you do Justice, may you love Mercy, and may you walk humbly with your God.
-Charlene D. Quint ©
I was in liturgy writing overdrive last week, so nothing new this week. I’ve pulled out a prayer of blessing for graduates that I wrote a couple of years ago. It is about that time of year again . . .
Prayer of Blessing for Graduates
Creative and Creating God,
We thank you for
Your beloved creations. We thank you for their accomplishments.
We celebrate with them at this time of graduation. God the Spirit, guide and guardian,
We pray that they will recognize your guidance on the next stages of their journeys.
May your loving protection surround them each step they take. God our Christ, Word made flesh,
May they seek to live according to your example:
Lives of justice. Lives of peace. Lives of joy. Amen.