It is the season of graduations. I enjoy formal ceremonies like graduations, weddings, and even funerals. I think there is something to the structure, formality, and ritual of these occasions. Ever notice that they each have their own expected events and even clothing? Tux, white dress, black or grey, and cap and gown. You exchange rings, listen to a eulogy, walk across a stage, shake a hand, and get a diploma. At my graduation they commissioned us to go out into the world with the knowledge we have and endeavor to change and influence the world for Christ. I felt the weight of that call.
I think there is something in that, too. As churches we have a burden to help mark high school graduation as a right of passage. We are to help students understand their own spiritual journeys and to go forth into what is beyond high school- building on the foundation of their relationship with God. Yes, I thnk that we can help them celebrate their personal growth and achievements, but their families, high schools, friends, and our society already help them do that. As a church it is our calling to help them understand where they have been in their spiritual lives and, maybe more importantly, where they are going.
If youth are graduating from the church and never returning after they leave high school, then this occasion is a crucial time for youth workers to mark this as a passage into another leg of their spiritual marathon. We ought to help them identify the foundations of their spiritual lives. We ought to help them to see that their relationship with Christ affects their decisions as they move forward. We ought to help them make space to engage with him as they move on to the next thing in life. It is our role to call them to know god better in the next phase of life and to commit to walk with them as they learn what that means. Graduation celebrations ought to be unabashedly spiritual in nature.