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The Rev. Bill Harper

Hey All--


 


The Graduate(s)

The honest charm of a High School graduation is obvious.  It may seem that the individual and family moments leading up to graduation are perfectly predictable and haven't changed in generations, yet they are nevertheless beautifully unique for every graduate and his or her family.  Over many, many years I have written dozens of letters to graduates-"GradGrams" as they are called at Bainbridge High School.  It's a beautiful, thing, these notes.  Family members, old friends, coaches, teachers, pastors-they all get a chance at one more bit of advice.  Or maybe even wisdom.  This year, as in many recent years, I am writing letters to kids-people!-I've known for lots of years.  Some since they were 3 or 4 or 5 years old.  It's always a challenge to figure out what to say-to be real and true and honest, and even faithful.  That same challenge is facing me as I think about speaking to the graduates at Baccalaureate next Sunday.

So what is there to say, faithfully, to these graduates?  What stories to pass on?  What words of hope and inspiration?  I wonder so often about how to "pass on" faith.  How to make this faith that has shaped my life matter to another generation, and then another one after that.  It takes more than modeling and teaching-it takes a freedom to question and experience. What moves and shapes people is experience, not beautifully crafted doctrine and philosophy.   And those of us charged with passing off and handing down have to be honestly aware that faith evolves-it is not static.  It cannot be static.  A recent Facebook conversation with a 17 year old that I like very much had this perfectly straight question: "but isn't the 'voodoo' just ungrounded assumptions?  Can't honest truths and a loving and stable community help people?"  In other words, do we really need all that religion?  My answer was "yes,"-but in that answer there is so much to try to explain and even justify.  It's hard.

Nevertheless, I do pass on advice.  And I try to package it as wisdom.  I'd like to live it more fully, and I really want our community of Grace to sustain and strengthen its commitment to nurturing faith in the generations yet to be.  I can think of no better way for us to spend our time and our money.  It's funny, as I get older, I want my faith to matter to those who are younger.  That doesn't happen by accident-it happens with honest commitment.  I guess every graduation reminds me to renew that commitment.  And so I do.

BTW: We will celebrate and bless our own Grace Grads on Sunday morning, June 6th.  Be here!




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