Baccalaureate Weekend

Baccalaureate Services took place at Wooddale Church last night. I have to admit that I don’t like Baccalaureate. I love what it represents. I am proud of my students. But I don’t like it because I have to say, “Goodbye,” to a group of students that I have come to adore over the years. The Class of 2005 is a group of students that have literally changed my life. Working with them has been a joy, and I’m going to miss them.

Here is an excerpt of what I shared with them last night:

I am going to miss the Class of 2005. You have changed my life. I remember praying for you before you joined the Senior High Program. I prayed that God would use me to be a spiritual influence in your life. After three years of working with you, I believe that I can say that I have been encouraged by you as well. It was in Romans 1 that Paul spoke of his desire to visit the Roman people. He so wanted to spend time with them. He said:

“I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong – that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.”
Romans 1:11-12

That is what I pray has happened for you over your years in Wooddale Student Ministries.

Do you remember when you left the safety of Wooddale’s Children’s Ministry and entered a big room with a big woman who gave you the biggest hug that you have ever received in your life? Do you remember feeling scared? Do you remember when Heather showed you her favorite muscle? Do you remember your first day of high school? Do you remember your AUG final? Do you remember Project Canada?

Do you remember all the fears that you had of leaving Wooddale’s Junior High Ministry, Heather and the leaders that loved you and walking through the doors of the Senior High Ministry? Do you remember when you met Jill? Do you remember hearing her voice and wondering what her hair would look like today? Do you remember Matt and Alaina DeYoung, and the love that they had for you before they left to go serve another church as youth pastor?

Do you remember See You At the Pole? Do you remember any of Greg Speck’s once a year challenges to the students of Wooddale? Do you remember what your favorite Greg Speck microphone antic was? Do you remember your Growth Group? Do you a question you had about God? Do you remember a question from Pizza and God Talk? Do you remember a spiritual crisis that you went through? Do you remember a friend’s spiritual crisis and what it was like to walk through it with them?

Do you remember what it was like to serve the people in the inner cities of Seaside, California, Toronto, Canada, or Minneapolis, Minnesota? Do you remember getting off of a plane in Guatemala and hearing another language being spoken, then driving another six hours to the rain forest only to hear one more language spoken? Do you remember the feeling you had when you built a house for a family that so desperately needed a home, and the feeling that you had when you saw how happy they were with the tiny home they had? Do you remember wondering why they could be so happy with so little and wondering why you, who had so much more in comparision were not so happy?

Do you remember retreats? Do you remember Chi Town? Do you remember the lesson that made you mad? The lesson that put you to sleep? The lesson that changed your life?

Do you remember your favorite song that the worship team played? The song that you wish you were singing right now? Palms playing guitar barefoot, hoping to impress yet another girl?

God has been at work in you these past few years. My prayer is that you’ll allow him to continue to work in and through you. It would be a grave error in the way that we do ministry if we allowed you to think that you have “arrived” spiritually since you are graduating from high school. May it be true of you that when you are eighty years old, you are at a point of spiritual depth that is far beyond where you are today. And, may it be true of you that as you leave for college, the work force, or the armed services that you take God with you. He won’t leave you, and we pray that you will passionately pursue Him.

Your class verse was chosen by a parent. It is Psalm 32:8 and it says:

“I will instruct and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.”

Psalm 32:8

God has good plans for you.

Paul started a lot of churches. And, he cared so much about what happened to them after he left. In Colossians he wrote:

“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. For in Christ all the fulness of Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.”

Colossians 2:6-10
I believe that this is a strong senior class. But, every year I hear from students who leave our student ministry and have their faith shaken by hollow and deceptive philosophies. May it not be so with you.
I want to close with a prayer. It is the prayer that Paul offered on behalf of another church that he started. This time it was the Ephesian church. Would you bow your heads as I pray Paul’s prayer over you?
“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole familyin heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”
Ephesians 3:14-21
Farewell Class of 2005. We love you.

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