Pastor's Message - View from the Pulpit...
Congratulations to graduates! We hope to officially recognize all those who are graduating this year and with whom we at New Goshenhoppen Church share an association. The date for this recognition will be June 13. This is of course as long as we know who is experiencing that special moment this year!
It is curious and interesting that the ceremony marking the end of a school career is referred to as commencement, as the word “commence” means “to begin.” Of course I realize that the conclusion of a school career means the beginning of the next chapter in life. This would be particularly true when the school career in question may very well have been designed to prepare the student, now graduate, for the vocation in which the student will be soon beginning to work. But often what the graduate feels is relief at saying goodbye to the old chapter more than excitement and anticipation at the new one unfolding! I have had a few of these ceremonies in my life, and have been honored at being a Baccalaureate speaker at some of them as well.
After one of my presentations, a faculty member at the school wrote me a congratulatory letter. He stated that he was pleased with what I had shared with the graduates, and did not, as he said, fall into the temptation to simply give one of those “onward and upward” canned speeches. I figured he had gone to many Baccalaureate services. I was greatly honored at his assessment, and remembered my seminary preaching professor saying to the class with a grin on his face, “Don’t forget: they really are listening.” I would have thought that was the case, but obviously I have remembered his words all these years later so I suppose they had their intended impression. “Onward and upward” does not have to be as bad as it may sound, but the faculty member who used that phrase in a derogatory way had no doubt heard a little too much of it over the years.
Commencement does recognize the ending of the school career and the beginning of what comes next. But while I have suggested that using that word to describe the event is curious, I respect its usage and affirm the positive attitude that the utilization of that word encourages. Those graduates who are glad to be leaving that juncture are so pleased to start the next chapter. Those graduates who are not happy to be saying goodbye can benefit by an attitude which encourages their next steps, even though those very steps may be being taken in sadness. Whenever I was the graduate, I was ready to move on to the next stage even when I had enjoyed the one then closing.
So again, congratulations to those for whom this is happening! It is exciting to be a part of this moment, even while taking a small part in the larger experience. From the perspective of pastor, I would say that it is vital to affirm the educational and vocational pursuits of fellow stakeholders of New Goshenhoppen Church. I see these pursuits as essential to the ongoing call of God in life. Blessings to all, including all around the graduate who have provided support through the long haul, the challenges, and the victories along the way!
With you in Christ,