A graduation is a rite of passage, step into a new part of life. It is a gathering of God’s faithful to commemorate an event. In many ways, Class of 2021, you move from your childhood and adolescence, into the world of Young Adults. We are here to commemorate that today!
Let’s think of Samuel, that story as a commemoration of God’s faithfulness to his Israelites, he raised a monument, the Ebenezer, at Mizpah, to proclaim, “thus far the Lord has helped us”. Similar to our monument that commemorates the first 25 years of the story of JRHS that sits behind campus, today we raise our Ebenezer called the class of 2021!
I have always loved history, and the thought of us participating in History is so exciting to me! From a Providential point of view, we realize that we are all part of a greater story that God is writing all the time, like a grand stage play, that comes to completion at some future time, in his perfect and appointed time.
Many of us love the Lord of the Rings narrative, because in that story, it is in essence the whole drama of God’s plan of creation, the fall, and the ultimate redemption of the characters back to Him in a place of eternal peace and rest.
As a school this year, we have subscribed to some of the Tolkien lexicon. Thursday night, we presented the Merry and Pippin award, to two young lads who exemplify friendship, love, community and prioritize a love and reverence for Gandalf, as they love and serve their fellow Hobbits. And of course, we have commemorated our new Pavilion, Rivendell, Tolkien’s place of rest and preparation. It is where the Fellowship of the Ring was forged, and the Team goes forth into Mordor and do God’s bidding. It is where Frodo Baggins (young, brave, insignificant, unprepared, small, unarmed) makes the bold proclamation that he will step forth, he will lead. Then, others follow.
As much as this is a rite of passage today for you students, we realize it is just the dress rehearsal for the greater things. God has allowed you to walk the line today, and to cross over to your next chapter in His unique narrative for you, in essence rehearsing what we need to do every day: walk in His way, towards his plan.
Just like Frodo said yes to the mission, you too have a mission, and you too will have the opportunity to say a BIG YES to what God wants to do for you and through you, all for the building of His Church. What will you be called to do? Right now, you probably have no idea what that is, and in fact, it is probably somewhat intimidating to think about it. I know when I was your age, I may have known my next move, but I did not know in a mere three years God was going to begin to draw me towards a bold vision (of which you are now part of); 4 years from my high school graduation day, I was married. And so many more things ahead for me! Praise God!
So, how does one find and follow God’s Calling in their lives. How can you as newly graduating high school Seniors more fully understand what it means to be Sent Out. Because the ultimate goal of attending JRHS is actually to leave it, to be Sent Forth to next and greater things. To live and to do things that will make an eternal difference, such that you earn the status, in the words of Jesus “well done, Good and faithful servant”. In this parable of the Talents, the Faithful servant is rewarded in two ways:
- To experience and share God’s joy
- Increased responsibility, privilege and permission in God’s Kingdom
And now, Hobbits, let’s return for a moment to Frodo, Merry, Pippin and Sam, and see what they have to show us about living a faithful life in God’s smile. Just like them, you too are being sent forth from your Rivendell. Yes, the beautiful one we built this year that adorns the east end of campus, but more. Rivendell is more importantly a concept, than a place. It is Preparation, It is Rest, It is Fortification, It is God-centered Mission. My hope and prayer for all of you is that JRHS will always be a Rivendell for you, and that you will continue to seek and find new ones in your journey ahead. I am convinced that Rivendell is best found in two places very close to God’s heart – the family, and the Church. My admonition to you is stay close to your Family, and find and commit to Church. Yes, that is where we find Rivendell.
Young men and women, soon to be graduates of JRHS, I want to suggest to you that your story is no different than many of the great heroes of the faith who have gone before you. Let us give thanks to God for the opportunity you are for God and His Church. If you are looking, He will show you a direction to lead first yourself, and then your flock towards a Kingdom life, one reflecting the mission of this great institution.
And now, to the listening audience, the real center point of the JRHS graduation is when each Senior tells his/her part of God’s story while at JRHS. They get to raise their Ebenezer here in a moment. I’m drawn back to our year theme, “A Useful Vessel” From 2 Timothy. But in a great house there are not only vessels of Gold and Silver, but also of Wood and Clay. Some are for honorable use, and some for dishonorable. If the JRHS Graduate cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, ready for every good work”
Graduation class of 2021, I commend you on your part of this process, and may it be a model for years of leadership ahead of you. May the Lord Bless you as individuals and an Alumni class as you go forth from here! Honor, Sanctified, Useful and Ready for the Work ahead.