Dear Class of 2019,
These past few weeks we’ve had lots of opportunities for final goodbyes, for honoring one another, and for celebrating God’s faithfulness over this past year. On our 8th grade trip we were able to pause to recognize the great things that God has done for us—as individuals and as a community. We’ve lifted up our stones of remembrance, we’ve laughed together, cried together, worshiped together, and now, finally, you’ve walked across the stage, across the threshold and into the new adventure of high school. I’ve had the honor of spending each day for the past 3 years with all of you, and I’ve cherished every step of the way.
Now that we are at the end of our road together, I’d like to take one last chance to remind you of some of the lessons that we have learned together. Lessons that I pray shape your life for years to come. Lessons that opened our eyes to new, beautiful, and broken things. Of all our lessons this year, here’s what I want you to remember.
I want you to remember that life can be difficult. I want you to know that struggle is a reality of this broken world, yet (you know I love a good conjunction) life is beautiful, and you don’t have to live in the shadow of death or the shadow of difficulty or the shadow of struggle. Remember our E.E. Cummings poem- this is the sun’s birthday. Chase away the shadows. Live in the natural, in the infinite, in the yes.
I want you to remember this quote by Anne Frank that follows those same lines:
"I see the world gradually being turned into a wilderness, I hear the ever approaching thunder, which will destroy us too, I can feel the suffering of millions, and yet, if I look up into the heavens, I think that it will all come right, that this cruelty too will end, and that peace and tranquility will return again."
Don’t overlook the struggle or the darkness: the injustice we saw with Charlie Gordon in Flowers for Algernon as he was beaten and abused because he was disabled- he was different. Don’t overlook the struggle as our eyes were opened to racial injustice and anti-Semitism happening now in our society. Don’t forget those heart wrenching scenes from Roll of Thunder where it seemed that hatred and bigotry rule our world. Don’t forget that feeling as we stood in the Holocaust museum, surrounded by memories of pain and suffering and genocide, memories marked by discrimination and hatred. Don’t overlook the darkness.
At the same time, don’t live in it. Don’t overlook the light that is stronger, brighter, more powerful. Remember John 1:1-5
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
The darkness has not overcome the light.
You bring so much light into this world. All of you. It would be selfish of me to fail you all and keep that light locked here in this classroom. So, with excitement, and a heavy heart a little bit if I’m being honest, I send you on to high school- to bigger and better things than just 8th grade. No matter what your path is, or where you end up, be a light. Live in the light of the cross. Don’t wait for good things to happen- make them happen here on earth- in a place that is broken and struggling. God has gifted you all with so many beautiful and magnificent gifts- use them.
And when you get tired of using them, and tired of trying, remember how the disciples responded in Luke 5 after Christ told them to throw back their nets into the water after a long and arduous night trying to fish. Simon Peter, frustrated and tired, but full of faith responds with, “Master we toiled all night and took nothing…..but because you say so, I will.” One more time. One more time, they dug deep and were blessed, pulling in so much fish into the boat that it started to collapse and sink. Give God one more time when you feel like life has defeated you. Pick up your cross, face your burdens, try to overcome one more time. Throw those nets overboard and soak in the overwhelming weight and glory of God’s love. Remember what Corrie ten Boom wrote in The Hiding Place when she thought she couldn’t go one step further? “And so I discovered that it is not on our own forgiveness any more than on our own goodness that the world’s healing hinges, but on His. When He tells us to love …He gives, along with the command, the love itself.”
I love all of you. I hope you know that. I am proud of you, and I am excited for you. Just make sure you come back and visit once in a while. Grab a visitor’s badge from the front desk, come play Knock-out, and always know that our doors are always- always- open for you. You always have a place and a seat in 8M and at WCGS.