(given at the Escondido Adventist Academy on June 6, 2021)
As your final assignments are turned in, may you remember that the best learning happens not when you consume, but when you create – when you take the things that you enjoy and create meaningful things that will bless the world.
As you get your final grades, may you reject the lie that your worth is ultimately dependent on your work. May you remember that your grade is a measure of your learning at that point in time and not a measure of your total identity.
As the applause quiets, may you still realize how loved you are.
May you realize that the approval you give yourself in private is far more beneficial to you in the long run than the applause you recieve in public.
As the celebrations cease, may you realize that every time you take a breath, whenever you feel the ground beneath your feet, the sea breeze gently brush your face, or when you sip a nice cup of chai, may you remember that you have life.
And that’s worth celebrating every day.
As you move into a world with less masks, may you be committed to removing some invisible masks: Masks like..
– The mask of success: “I am only as good as the things I produce. If I do more, I’m worth more. If I do less, then I’m worth less.”
– The mask of image-management : “I am going to post the best versions of myself on social media because I can’t bear the thought of someone rejecting me.”
– The mask of productivity : “I am too busy to stop and see you.”
– The mask of fear-based religion: “I am too afraid to deal with my insecurities so I’m going to use religious behavior to cover it up.”
May you recognize that meaningful things can become “masks” when we use them to protect ourselves from others, rather than as ways to increase our love for them.
As you move into a world with less social-distancing, may you lean into your friendships. May you know that you are created with a capacity to love and for love. May you have adventures worth telling your kids about, create memories that make you belly laugh that you can’t breathe, and build bonds that are stronger than fear.
As you remember the ones who can’t be here today, may you remember that grief is not the absence of joy, but its strongest memory. To grieve well is to remember them at a subterranean level of your being and to realize that moments of deep sadness can create more space in your heart for even deeper joy.
May this grief and sadness also remind you of the greatest benefit of the Christian life: which is hope.
Hope of reuniting with our loved ones.
Hope for a world made new, with no more virus, no more sickness, no more death. Hope, as Frederick Buechner said, that “the worst thing is never the last thing.”
Finally, as you graduate today, may you know at a core level, that even during your darkest moments, you are never, ever, alone.
God is with you. Jesus is with you. The Holy Spirit is with you.
May you come to experience God’s love by nose-diving into this crazy, bumpy, adventure we call “faith”, and then owning it for yourself by swimming deeper into ekklesia – a counter-cultural, Christ-centered, other-oriented community of faith.
May you come to realize that there’s no limit to your purpose or your pleasure, when every day, your feeble hand of faith makes contact with the strong love of the Savior.
Class of 2021, stay classy, stay fresh, stay blessed.