Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Graduation Tradition

We have a spring tradition in the church I have attended for the past 24 years. The tradition began around the time my children graduated about 10 years ago, and begins on a Saturday morning in May, with a graduation breakfast.

Each graduate invites family, friends and church members who have been important in their lives - especially in their spiritual growth. In most cases, they can find many within the groups mentioned. There usually is a slide show photo presentation, with music, of a progression of different ages for each graduate. Great breakfast food prepared and served by people from the church comes next.

What follows is my favorite part of the celebration. Each graduate's father or parent comes forward and talks about their son or daughter, including stories and different people's impact on their child's life. No two introductions are the same - just as each graduate or parent is not alike; but certain patterns begin to appear - church life and activities; education; and personal experiences (more than one parent mentioned that their child was a "surprise".) There are many tears and trembling voices as they talk about their children. The parents are allowed, I think, an extreme gift - to be allowed to pause and reflect on the gift their children have been in their lives.

After each parent introduces their son or daughter, the graduate then talks also about the people and events that have impacted their life, which may be different from the parent's perspective; they talk about their future plans, and ask for prayer for both physical and spiritual areas for their future.

I have been blessed to know one of the young men in this picture since his birth - in fact he shares a birthday with my daughter.

I was blessed to first get to know one of the young ladies when I served at a youth winter retreat near Bozeman. I was a driver for several girls that year, and we shared the fun of singing and listening to a variety of music on our trip.

I have worked for the past two years with another young lady in this picture, and shared an interest in piano, food, and fellowship with her

I have enjoyed the creative and avant garde nature of another young man.
We had the same piano teacher for a few years.

I worked in the church nursery several times with another of the young ladies. I've watched her grow into an intelligent and thoughtful person, who, I believe, is going to storm the world.

I have watched the director of our youth, also in the picture, since he was a local high school student himself; through his military schooling, marriage, fatherhood, and several relocations - most recently back here in Montana to serve in our local church.

What an amazing work of the Lord is the local church -- and what an amazing blessing to serve and be a part of the local body.

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