This morning we recognize and celebrate those high school seniors are graduating this month and who stand in the circle of care and commitment that is called Bedford Presbyterian Church.
They are scholars and athletes and actors.
They have been Sunday Spirit teachers and work trip participants and workers around the church.
They have supported their school and strengthened their communities.
They have grown up in our midst.
Some of us can honestly say, “I knew them when…”
When they sang in the Cherub Choir.
Or, when they stretched out on a pew with their head on their mother’s lap.
Or, when they stood next to a parent on a Sunday morning and handed out bulletins.
We knew them when, and now here they are.
Moments like this are always bittersweet, aren’t they?
For them and for their parents and for us.
On one hand we celebrate who they are and what they have accomplished and the possibilities stretching out before them. On the other hand, while in some ways this will always be “home” for them, together as parents and church and teachers and schools and coaches and friends, we have all done our part so they are ready to launch them outwards away from home and into the world to make their own way and to leave their own particular mark.
So, to those of you who are graduating, as you step from today towards that tomorrow with all of its wonder and all of its challenges, and with all of its struggles and all its successes, may I remind you of two things which I believe to be true, and which I hope in some small way you carry with you as you go. First this…
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” (Dr. Suess)
Or, in other words, “You are the light of the world.”
Which, I think, means something like this.
If you want the world to be a better place, do your part to make it a better place. If you want your school to be more understanding of others, refuse to be silent. Add your insight and push your questions. If you want your community to be more kind, add your kindness. If you want our world to be more peaceful, find ways to be a peacemaker. If you want those around you to be less self-centered and more generous and more grateful, be that way yourself and let others see it even if it goes against the crowd. Especially if it goes against the crowd.
Reach for that something more.
Make space in your life for that something more.
Hold onto to hope and to goodness and to the promise that the long arc of history does, in fact, bend in the direction of justice.
In other words, hold on to that; make time and space for that which for me is wrapped up in that which I know and name as God.
And the second is this…
Remember Bedford Presbyterian Church.
But, remember it not just as a place.
As a beautiful building on a Village Green in an historic hamlet.
But, remember Bedford Presbyterian Church as a group of people of which you are a part. A group of people who have had some place and role and presence in your life. A group of people who, while we may often fall short of our goal, have tried to do those things which I reminded you to do a moment ago. A group of people who try to practice what we preach.
Who try to treat others as we would like to be treated.
Who try to practice hospitality and to extend a sense of welcome.
Who try to care for those who find themselves in need.
Who try to take that which we know and name as God seriously allowing it to shape who we are and how we act.
There is a story in the Bible where Jesus turns to the group of people who have been following him around, listening to what he has been teaching and watching what he has been doing. And, basically he says to them, “Enough of watching me. Now, it is your turn.” And, he sends them out into the world telling them and challenging them to do everything that they had seen him do and more. That is what I would say to you today.
Go and be Bedford Presbyterian Church.
Take the best of who we are and the best of what you have learned here or experienced here and, make it your own. And, somehow carry it with you into the world out there to all of the colleges and universities to which you are going. But, also, be aware of this, you do not go alone. You join that larger circle which is Bedford Presbyterian Church who are not just here in this place, but who are scattered from coast to coast and, literally, around the world. If you leave it here or think or act like Bedford Presbyterian Church is just a place…just a building and not a group of people of which you are a part, we have missed the mark and done you and the world in which we live a disservice.
So to those of you who are graduating, go.
Go with our congratulations and our best wishes and our ongoing prayers.
In whatever way you are able…
In whatever way you are called…
Take your intellect and your questions and your skills and your vision into the world out there and bend it in the direction of God’s Kingdom come making it a bit better pace for us and for all.