A few years ago, when my youngest son was working his way towards the end of his undergraduate degree, he was wondering what would come next. And so was I! His internship eventually turned into an offer of full time employment, and off he went to live and work in Boston after his college graduation. He was one of the lucky ones.
If there is one thing in life that is certain, it is the fact that we are constantly changing – whether it be – finding a new job, moving, marriage, growing our family, or graduating from school. Our lives are full of small changes that creep up on us, like aging!… as well as big events like graduations that set us on a new and exciting path.
Even as we move through the experiences that change us, we don’t lose sight of our previous self. In fact, these memories often become even more precious to us. This is surely true for me, as I have launched three sons. Those old family photos of the first days of preschool, first-grade, family vacations, parties, and childhood milestones…are my treasures now.
I say, “thank goodness” we do not stay the same! We need to learn and grow. We move through cute stages and awkward stages and we make mistakes that require forgiveness. Yet, if we are lucky enough to be surrounded by good teachers, mentors, and faithful, loving families – we have a real chance of becoming the good people God made us to be.
We do this in relationship to one another. We may think we do it alone, but this is just a delusion. God gave us the gift of relationship. We are wired this way, and our very “well-being” depends upon this gift.
The church is a place where we can have life changing relationships with one other. Together we are like an extended family. With the help of this family we share our faith. We learn and grow. We rejoice in each others’ celebrations and we bear one another’s losses.
Jesus’ disciples became like an extended family as well. After Jesus died, the disciples grieved together. They were going through a change and they weren’t quite sure what would come next. They felt lost and afraid. Though they were on a new path, they were anxious about an unknown future.
Yet Jesus sent them what they needed. He sent them the teacher, the mentor, the power of God through the Holy Spirit, and they were transformed into a new community of Jesus’ followers. They became capable of things they were not previously capable of. I guess you could say that the coming of the Holy Spirit to them was a kind of “graduation” which set them firmly on the path to post-resurrection discipleship!
Like Jesus’ disciples in the 1st Century, we who are Jesus’ church today can trust that we also will receive what we need when we are in a place of change. So we need not be anxious, or afraid about an unknown future. Jesus will surely send us good mentors and teachers, and the power of the Holy Spirit.
In this season of Graduation celebrations, perhaps we could tap into the spirit of excitement and anticipation that goes along with it. To be open to what comes next doesn’t mean we lose sight of our previous self. On the contrary, it makes this even more precious. Transformation always comes with blessings in a family that loves and supports one another.
Congratulations and best wishes to all of you graduates out there!
Yours in Christ’s Service,
Reverend Linda C. Hey