This is the season of graduations. We recognized our high school graduates this past Sunday in worship and sent them forward with prayers for the next chapter in their journey. All of us who have been there already know how exciting and even a little scary that journey is.
In one of our efforts to achieve deeper Community Partnerships, our church is once again hosting Hillwood High School’s Baccalaureate Service on Sunday, May 20. This is our way of being involved in the lives of those students and reminding them that there is a place for God in their future.
This is also the season of graduation speeches. I’ve been through my share of them and so have most of you. Rev. Maurice Moore, whom some of you know, gave one of the best ones at my Martin College graduation. His sermon was titled, “The Time of Figs”. You know when you can remember the title of a sermon or speech from 40 years ago, it must have been pretty good.
Most of the these speeches run along similar lines. Be all you can be, go change the world, do remarkable things, yada, yada, yada.
I think maybe we should be more honest with our graduates. We all HOPE you will go forward and do those remarkable things, but our experience tells us that very few will. Most graduates of high school or college will settle into a life that they hope will provide comfort for themselves and their families. Many of them will choose a life that doesn’t bring any joy--just a paycheck.
And we should be honest with our graduates that in most cases the deck is stacked against you. There will be many, many obstacles to prevent you from achieving your dreams.
What I told our graduates at the luncheon we held for them this past Sunday was this: you can’t play scared. I told them about my time as a collegiate tennis player. We had a pretty good team at Martin. And what we learned very early on was if you play not to lose, you will almost assuredly lose. The way to get your best into the world is to play without fear. Which means you can’t be afraid to foul up. You can’t be afraid to lose. You can’t become paralyzed by the fear of possibly making a mistake. You have to learn to have a short memory--you mess up, you do your best to correct it, figure out how not to make the same mistake again, and move on.
Jesus told His disciples just before He ascended to Heaven this: “Greater things you will do than I have ever done.” That is a stunning moment given to us by the Savior of the World. But he meant it. And we should take it to heart.
One last thing for our graduates and all the rest of us, too--maybe you won’t change the world, but you can definitely change your little corner of it. And that will be a life well-lived.