June 10, 2009

Look Back

Grace and peace to you in the name of our Lord, graduates. On behalf of our entire congregation, I write to convey our most fervent blessing as you make the transition into this next season of your life. Many of you have moved among this flock for many years, and beginning soon most of you will move beyond it—venturing to far-flung places for work, education, and—no doubt—much adventure along the way.

As you go out from us, we give to you this little charge: From time to time, look back and remember your baptism. Yes, we want you to remember your home church, your youth group, and the like. And surely in time you’ll find that a place like New Wilmington has a certain gravitational pull, such that you’ll be back every now and then. While we hope you do not forget us, more than anyone or anything else we want you to look back upon your own baptism. Remember who you are; remember whose you are. Your baptism is the marker of both.

To be sure, at the time of your graduation, your gaze is quite rightly fixed forward. Like a restless runner braced in a starting block, you are surely fixed upon your future and the new freedoms and opportunities that lie therein. It is a terrific time of life: looking down the long course of things now so spread out before you, this race you now run on your own two legs. What a gift, to be able to gaze out upon numerous possibilities. We know, because we’ve been in those blocks, too.

Even so, make sure that in every turn of the course you take a glance back over your life to see that truest of starting points: the baptismal waters, where you were first marked as belonging to God. Though you have by now outgrown most of the features of your childhood, by God’s grace there will never be a time when you will have outgrown the sign and seal of God’s claim upon you. Look back on this glorious fact from time to time—long enough for it to shape the way you run on ahead into the rest of your life. Commit yourself to engaging scripture, offering your prayers, serving those in need, loving your enemies, and rooting yourself in a fellowship of Christians wherever you may be. Do these things, not because you have to, but because you can. They are your glad response to the news that “you can do all things through him who strengthens you” (Philippians 4:13). Keep looking ahead, but also keep looking back upon the call of Christ.

Speaking for the entire congregation, I say for them: congratulations on concluding all your high school achievements. The peace of our Lord go with you in the seasons now before you.