Graduation Sunday 5/23/2021 | Elim/bwk
John 16:13-14 (also Ezekiel 37) | Pastor Bruce Kolasch
Job 33:4 “The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty has given me life.”
You are graduating! Wahoo! You are probably excited and also a bit anxious. That is normal. You have aspirations and hopes. High School graduation is one step on the journey of life. You have many more steps, challenges and opportunities ahead. Can you do it? Will you measure up? Will you let others or yourself down? What does the future hold? Today we are celebrating you and the future God has in store for you.
Today is also Pentecost Sunday—the outpouring of God’s Spirit upon the church and all believers, including all of us here this morning. The story of the fall in Genesis records how God removed Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. He also withdrew His Spirit and presence from us because unholy people cannot hold a holy God within themselves, nor be in God’s presence. But even back then God made a promise to redeem us through the Promised Deliverer. That Promised Deliverer is Jesus. Jesus is God in human flesh—true God and true human who died and rose again in our place. And because He was successful in His mission to take away the sin that separated us from God we now have free access to God’s presence, and God Himself can dwell within us.
Pentecost is the celebration of the return of the Holy Spirit to us individually and collectively as the body of Christ, the Church on earth. Pentecost comes from the Greek language and means fifty. It is a Hebrew (Jewish) festival that occurs seven weeks after the Passover and celebrates the end of the harvest. Christians celebrate Pentecost which occurs fifty days after Jesus’ ascension into heaven—hence the name Pentecost.
Pentecost is exciting. It is the return of the Holy Spirit to live within us as I just mentioned. It is God’s original plan and design. Pentecost means all is well and that God is with us, in us, strengthening and empowering us to live as God’s blessed, beloved, chosen people in this world. That is important because sometimes we forget who we are and whose we are. Sometimes we get distracted and side tracked.
So, this morning, for you Lydia, and for all of us here, remember these things:
Look up. Never loose your sense of wonder and awe.
We live in an amazing world. Nature is filled with things that we are continuing to discover. There is so much we don’t know. Today as we celebrate God’s gift of the Holy Spirit in us and in our world, let the Spirit of God lead you. Ask God to open your eyes and fill you with awe at all the beauty and wonder around you.
Remember WHO YOU ARE and WHOSE YOU ARE.
God created you to be you. God knows your full potential. You have been baptized in the name of Christ. You are God’s child. God lives in and longs to live through you. That is a core part of your identity as you go out from here today. You have been “bought with a price.” Live the knowledge of that forgiveness and God’s empowering in you. Today we celebrate God’s Spirit being poured out on you and us. Let God’s Spirit guide you through the choices you make and the direction you go. God’s Spirit lives inside you.
USE YOUR HEAD
Your are an intelligent girl—young woman. We see and celebrate that! God gave you a brain. Continue to use it. Be brave enough to differentiate yourself from others around you. Do your own thinking. Set goals for yourself and your life. Make plans. Pursue them. Think through the consequences of your decisions before you act. Think your options through. Make your momma proud. Be prepared. Be alert. Think.
USE YOUR IMAGINATION
You have heard the phrase, those who aim at nothing hit it every time. So we say to you, dream big. Aim high. Have goals. Pursue your dreams. Use your imagination to picture what you would like to be and do. Think big. Be creative. Then make those dreams and possibilities reality by how you live. Thank God for the gift of imagination and be bold enough to let God lead you with the Spirit in thinking creatively and imaginatively for the future.
USE YOUR HEART
God gave you a brain. He also gave you a heart. God made us relational. We are not made to be lone wolves. We need each people. We use our heads to make rational decisions, to plan and problem solve. We use our hearts to examine who we are relationally. Connect with other people. Connect with God. Don’t take people for granted. Life is too short and unpredictable.
You have cared intensely for your brother Jonathon. You have partnered with your mom and been a responsible adult already in your young life. Branch out now. Don’t forget your home and home relationships, but don’t be afraid of stepping into new relationships either. Be bold and courageous. Take some risks in getting to know others, and in allowing others to know you as a young woman! Protect your heart, yes. But don’t hide it. You are wonderful young woman and we celebrate you.
USE YOUR ABILITIES & GIFTS
Your abilities are gifts from God. Trust that God gave you your gifts on purpose. Claim them. Develop them. Use them. Use them for God’s glory and for the benefit of humanity. Determine to leave the world better off because of how you live your life.
The Bible tells us to “fear God and do good.” You are continuing your education. You will be developing your gifts and abilities. God’s Spirit within you will teaching and guiding you as well. May God give you a hunger and thirst for knowledge and wisdom. Be a student of life. Never stop learning. Knowledge is the accumulation of information and facts. Wisdom is knowing how to live and use the knowledge you gain.
Trust Your CONSCIENCE
Because of Jesus and the cross we do have the gift of God’s Holy Spirit again. God’s Spirit is inside you. God’s Spirit empowers you and teaches you. Be alert to God’s internal voice through His Spirit. A part of that voice is your conscience. Like Jiminy Cricket in Pinocchio let your conscience be your guide. Always keep your conscience clean. Spiritual breathing is like exhaling the bad—confession—and breathing in the good—God’s grace and forgiveness. Differentiate between God’s gift of conscience and the guilt and shame of the world. You are a young woman of significance and worth. Celebrate who you are. Learn to hear God’s voice through all the noise and cacophony that surrounds us. Trust God to guide you and He will.
You have God’s Spirit within you. You are “marked with the cross and sealed with the Holy Spirit. You are God’s daughter, blessed, beloved, chosen, empowered. Today we celebrate you and send you forth with God’s blessings and leading.
In Jesus’ name.