Sunday, May 17, 2009

High School Baccalaureate 20090

Joshua 4


Class of 2009 of the Blair- Taylor school district, now is set before you a threshold upon which you stand that marks the passage from one time in your life to the next time in your life. Upon this threshold, you can look back and see all that has happened in the past, and you can glimpse into what the future may hold for you in your life.

Psychologists call these places liminal places where, even though you have not quite become the women and men you hope to be, you most definitely not the children who you once were. These liminal places in your life can be joyous events where you celebrate with fond memory the people and events of the past, yet they can also be fearful places because questions such as “What are you going to do with your life?” and “Who am I going to spend my life with?” may not be completely answered. To tell you a little secret, that’s okay! You don’t have to have your life completely planned out to hour, minute, and second, because who knows what the future has in store for you? Just know this, you will take with you all the things that you have experienced, all the things you have learned (whether you will realize it or not), and all the people who have made an impression on you in your life.

When I read the scripture passages that you have selected today, I was struck by your decision to include the reading from Joshua. The majority of the book of Joshua is a book of triumph and conquest, often at the expense of other people’s lives, yet the beginning of that book paints a picture of one of those liminal places where God’s people are now finally living and moving into the promise that God gave them when God liberated them from their slavery in Egypt. It has been a long time and a long journey for the Israelite people. For forty years they had wandered in the wilderness living off of the daily bread, water, and meat that God had provided them day after day. Some people had passed away along that journey. Others had been born along the way. But now, they are here at the banks of the Jordan on the cusp of their new life in a new land. This most definitely was a celebratory, yet anxious time for the chosen people of God.

Still, while there is much unknown to the people of Israel, much future yet to be explored, they are given a command to remember. They are given a command to remember all that had happened to them in the past forty years. They are given a command to remember the people who have gone before them. Most importantly, they are given a command to remember what God has done for them. They are told to remember who God is. Who God is is the one who did not abandon them to slavery. Who God is is the one who sustained them day by day. Who God is is the one who brings them to land and time of new hope and dreams.

So as you embark on this new part of your life, cherish the friends you have made over the years, yet learn from the relationships that have broken. Stand firm in the values you have learned from your parents and teachers, yet be open to love and care for people who may not share your same exact values. Lean on the education you have received over the years, yet come to each new learning opportunity in your life with a renewed curiosity that seeks to know more about the world around you. Most importantly, remember what God has done for you in your life, and trust that God will be there with you wherever you might go and whatever you might do. That relationship will always last and will continue on even if you don’t see how it possibly could be so anymore. That is something that you should pay attention to however your life turns out.

Joshua is told by God to pick up the stones that were in the middle of the Jordan as the people of Israel passed through on dry land just as they once had at the Red Sea. Joshua tells the people of Israel to take these stones so that when their children ask them what they are, they can recount story of what God did for them in liberating them from the bonds of slavery. I invite all of our graduates to come forward and take a stone as a token for them to see, feel and remember the life that has shaped them into the future – whatever that future may hold for them.

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