Prayer for Class of 2016

A prayer for the Baccalaureate Ceremony for the 2016 graduates of Apopka High School

Gracious and loving God,
We praise you for who you are…

The artist who paints sunsets, birds, planets, and fish in vibrant, unforgettable colors.
The healer of bodies and minds.
The parent who nurtures us, sings over us and quiets us with love.
The one who laid down his divinity to become one of us, living among us.
The rabbi who taught fishermen and tax collectors.
The leader who washed the feet of his followers.
The Spirit who enlightens and inspires.
The one who is three – always in community, bound only by love.

And You made humankind in your image…
Creative, passionate, compassionate, intelligent, focused, humble, loving, fun…

You create us to pursue passions and call us to work that can change lives and transform the world…
Musicians, teachers, leaders of cities and nations, doctors, nurses, parents, chefs, lawyers, ministers, farmers, software developers, architects, grocers, soldiers, pilots, artists

We give thanks for the gifts that you have begun to reveal in the Class of 2016.  As you call them into particular vocations and professions, we trust that you will continue to equip and empower them to serve not only in this community, but wherever you send them.

Bless the village that has raised each of these precious young people –
Parents and extended families,
Teachers and coaches,
Faith communities,
Neighbors
Employers and mentors

On the way to this moment, this evening, this week, that in many ways marks the end of childhood, many tears have been shed – in joy and in sorrow – by these students and all who stand behind them.

Hours have been spent at desks, in locker rooms and rehearsal halls, in gyms and on fields, on stages and in classrooms

Many more hours have been spent on couches, in libraries and study halls, heads in books, eyes on the prize.

There have been lectures, and lessons
There have been awards and trophies
There have been failures and fears

There have been goodbyes that ripped hearts wide open
There have been new friendships forged, relationships that blossomed, love unrequited and passions overstated

There have been car pools, bike rides, bus rides, and missed rides

And you were there for all of it.

Before pop quizzes and AP exams, prom invitations and cheerleader tryouts…
You heard every “please…“ ,
every “I promise…”
every “Just this once…”

You heard and answered those cries for help..
Sometimes that meant miraculous success,
Other times, the lessons that follow a spectacular failure.

Thank you for the ways that you have made and continue to make your presence known, whether we are looking for you or not.

Thank you for making good out of our messes, for working in us and through us in every circumstance.

Thank you that even now, as we face the consequences of our choices –good, bad, and in between – you are with us and for us.

Trusting in your lovingkindness,
Trusting in your faithfulness,
We give these graduates to you, dear Lord,
knowing that this commencement week marks a beginning,
a new season of life with new horizons of opportunity.

Give them eyes to see just how much this world needs their tenacity and joy and empathy
Give them hearts that beat with yours
Give them feet that walk steadily on the path you have set before them
Give them hands that reach out to lift up the discarded and arms that embrace the lonely
Give them voices that speak on behalf those who have been silenced   

Above all, give them ears to hear just how deeply and fiercely you love them and the faith to believe it is true, now and to the very end of the age

In the name of Jesus the Christ, the one who came to heal, feed, love, and set us free from all manner of bondage, then taught and commanded us to do likewise, we pray.
Amen

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