Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Wyneken Graduation Homily

Wyneken Memorial Lutheran School
Graduation Homily
3 May 2014

Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. –1 Timothy 4:12

Changes. They are a coming. That’s the theme of most graduations. So true with your class…seriously!

You’ve been together, 8, 9, 10 years…the most time you will spend at any other school. This will be the last time you’ll be together as a class. True. We’ll see you. At church. In the community. But not all of you, in one room, together. So cherish this moment.

You’ll move on. To Heritage. To Bellmont. Or some other school. Most of you will be in school for another 4, 8, 10 years. 12 or more if you become a pastor or a doctor.

For most of you, by the time, your time in school is over Pr. Brege and I will probably be retired. Probably we won’t be here. Someone else will take our place. Pr. Brock will be the face of your time at Wyneken. He’ll be the connection between now and then. 

So, yes, change is bound to come. And, when you consider the changes, which you will witness in the next ten, twenty, and thirty years from this night. I do not know if we can possibly imagine the things you will experience in your life.

But there is One will not change. And cannot change. His name is Jesus. He’s promised you. In His Word. In Malachi 3:6, “I am the Lord, I do not change.” And then, He gives a wonderful promise, “…therefore, you children of Jacob will not be destroyed.”

“You cannot be destroyed”, because God keeps His promises. Always. Every time. Without exception. St. Paul reminds us, “but when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who are under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’ So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.” –Galatians 4:4-7

The verse you have selected is quite appropriate for a night such as this. Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. –1 Timothy 4:12

St. Paul is writing to young Timothy who was a young pastor. He says, “Let no one despise or look down on you because of your youth”. Rather, “be an example to the believers”.
So, I ask you this night, what are we expecting of you? We are expecting of you - Be an example to others, especially to believers. Still, be an example to everyone; in your home, at church, and in the community.

True. The faith is taught. And your pastors and teachers have taught you well.  But, the faith is also caught. So, be an example.

Be an example –in speech, in conduct. And, I might add, in what you message. And, in what you tweet. And in all of your non-verbal communication.

Be an example. You might be the only Bible another person reads. There will be times when you will face temptation. Don’t give into them. Rather resist them. Be armed. With God’s Word, and His Sacraments. Remember your baptism. Remember who you are and whose you are. Remember to pray. Go back to the hymns we taught you in Morning Prayer. Hymns are the Christian’s prayer book. And you’ve memorized 48 of them this year alone. They will help you during troubled times.

Be consistent. In your worship life. After the winter we’ve had, everyone wants to be outside this summer. And one of the things I love to do in summer is grill outside. Picture in your mind a Webber grill. With a mound of burning coals. Remove one of those coals.  It’s still hot. But over time, left to itself, it can grow cold. The point, you need to be worshiping with your church family on a regular basis. Someone once told me “I got burned out from church!” Not so! It was not burnout…it was rust out. He simply stopped going. I say to you, break the mold! Don’t rust out! Go to that place where God’s presence is known!      

Let no one despise you for your youth. Some kid, probably your age, had the wherewithal to bring his lunch. His mother probably packed it for him. A loaf of bread and a few fish. Jesus used that lunch to feed 5,000 people. Think of what Jesus can do with your abilities, talents and gifts to influence others. The possibilities are endless. This is your verse Wyneken class of 2014! Use it! Let no one despise you for your youth.    

Be an example –“in love, in faith, in purity.” “The life you live is not your own. The life you live is rooted in Christ. You are, for the sake of Christ, loved and treasured and of great value in this world. Apart from any perception of yourself. Another’s evaluation. Or your own feelings or failures. It’s a reality that comes from outside of you. Hanging there on a cross.”[1]

This does not mean that we are free from suffering, failure or loss. We often fail and fail miserably. But the stuff of self-identity is the difference between two words, “do” and “done”. In the words of John the Baptizer, “I must decrease, He must increase.” You are free. You are free to be anything you want. You are free to be cop a teacher or a farmer. You are free to be a line cook or a garbage man. You are free to be a truck driver, a plastic surgeon or stay at home mom. 

Whatever your hand finds it to do…do it with all your might.” –Ecclesiastes 9:10 “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human master.” – Colossians 3:23 “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord.” – Colossians 3:17 Remember the Service Master cleaning service. In all you do - you are rendering service to the Master. What you do is a reflection of who you are.  

Everyone can be great...because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make you subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. And soul generated by love.”[2] 

The life you live is not your own. The life you live find its identity in Jesus Christ. Fare thee well child of God. Godspeed and God bless. And remember, in two years, when you get your driver’s license. The first person you take for a ride…is your pastor!

1.191 Word
86.6% Reading ease
3.2 Reading level

[1] Pr. James Wetzstein Chapel of Resurrection, Valparaiso, IN 29 March 2014
[2] Martin Luther King Jr.

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