The Season of Commencement

by Dr. Dennis J. Goff

It’s not a season you will find on your church’s liturgical calendar, but it is a season of life that affects many families: graduation. Many young people will be heading out this month to commence their college education. Often times graduation exercises are referred to as “Commencement.”  However, to commence is to begin, to start, to initiate something. High-school graduation is a commencement into adult­hood. This post-high-school season is a commencement into a whole new phase of life.

Especially during those final high-school years, parents often ask their children, “What do you want to do after high school?” “What do you want to be?” “What do you want to do with your life?” Although those may be typical questions to ask, they are somewhat misdirected because the common denominator in each question is: “What do you want?” However, life is not simply about what you want. Instead, life starts with understanding who you are.

See 1 Cor. 6:20 and 7:23–24. To whom do you belong? To whom are you responsible?

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Read 1 Peter 2:9–12. Knowing to whom you belong, what does it mean to be included among those called to be a “chosen people, royal priesthood, holy nation”?

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What does it mean, as a child of God, to be called an “alien and stranger in this world”?

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Read 1 John 3:1. John affirms that our true identity is connected to God. How does God see you? How can you see yourself as God sees you?

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In addition to being clear about who you are in Christ, what does God want for your life? You can become consumed by trying to figure out God’s will and purpose in your life. “Where should I work?” “Whom should I marry?” “Where should I live?” While these are important issues to settle while seeking God’s counsel, what kind of qualities and characteristics will describe how you live?

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Read Rom. 12:2. How do you begin to determine God’s will in your life?

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See Eph. 5:1–20. What are characteristics or choices that are the will of God for you? Which are not?

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In Lissa Raines’s book 8 Crucial Realities: Successful Choices for Graduates, she recalls something a professor repeated regularly in one of her freshman classes. He would say, “What you feed grows; what you starve dies.” His advice is well offered as you or someone you know commence life on one’s own. Starving one’s faith comes by a regular absence of Word and Sacrament. However, feeding that faith is deepening one’s relationship with the One who died for each of us and made us His own as He comes to us through Word and Sacrament.

> If you’re headed off to college, go to www.lutheranstudentfellowship.org to find a Lutheran campus ministry near your school.

About the Author: Dr. Dennis J. Goff is senior pastor at Family of Christ Lutheran Church, Ham Lake, Minn.

August 2011

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