Sunday we recognize the 2017 graduates and I cannot resist giving them a few parting words. My dear graduates there is so much I want to say to you. You have grown from crying babies to giggly elementary students to squirrely junior high students. Now you are young adults graduating and moving on to the next step in your life.
It has been a joy to journey with you these past years. I remember your servant hearts as you cared for children in Chicago, Detroit, and here at home. You served soup and washed dishes. You supported each other while trudging through the rainy Rocky Mountains. You prayed with and for each other. You opened your hearts to strangers by listening to their stories and learning from them. You told your own faith stories to encourage others. You make a difference now and will continue to do so as you move out into the wider world.
I’m so proud of you and for the challenges that you overcame to get this far. I delight your gifts and passions—health care, biology, athletics, computers, standing up for injustice, creative arts, the environment, and more.
Jesus has some important parting words for you too. On Sunday we will read John 14:15-21. Right before his death on the cross, Jesus gave this heartfelt message to his disciples. Jesus knew the disciples would soon no longer see him in person. But Jesus wanted them to know the relationship was NOT ending. Jesus wants each and every one of us to know that too. Jesus lives in and through you.
You are not going out alone! You have an Advocate, an encourager, a comforter. Someone who will stand by you and love you no matter what! So do not be afraid. Go ahead and try new things. Live and serve boldly. God sends the Holy Spirit to live in you. God’s Spirit also empowers you to be an encourager and comforter to others. Use your gifts with joy and passion knowing that you are never alone! God loves you and will never let you go!
Oh and by the way, I’m here and so is your faith family. We are still loving you, supporting you, praying for you and ready to help too. That’s what this whole church family is about–and other church families too waiting to walk with you in Jesus’ name.
So go in peace and serve the Lord! Thanks be to God.