Posts Tagged ‘Identity’

Graduation Sunday?

In Seminary, I learned to preach. That is, I learned to take a particular text, and exegete it, and sculpt it, and ask it how it applied to my context, to my people. I learned that the lectionary was my friend. I learned how to make the texts ask more questions than they answered. What I did not learn to do was pick out texts, drain the messiness out of them, and package them up nicely for an event. In some ways, I feel like Graduation Sunday is one of those events that almost calls for such a “packaged” sermon…something “Halmark-y” would probably do just fine.

I got nothin’.

Sunday’s the day we’re celebrating in our church. I learned it’s been a long standing custom to have the graduates process in with their graduation regalia. (I don’t know how much of a procession two people is, but that’s not the point.) The pianist plays “Pomp and Circumstance.” And in some ways, from what I’ve heard, it feels like the day is supposed to be a miniature graduation, with some worship thrown in on the side. That’s not my bag o’tricks!

I’ve spent some time thinking about what I’ve learned since Graduation, and perhaps the most wise thing I can say to them is “Welcome to the Rat Race. You were protected before. Now you’re not. Now it’s up to you to make it or break it in this world.” When I graduated, I just knew that I was going to be “somebody”. With that comes pressure, to be more, and do more, and have more. Maybe adding a “Mrs” to the front of my name would make me somebody? Maybe adding random letters after my name would help? “Mrs. Kim Justice, B.A., M.Div” Or maybe even gaining a “Reverend” to add to all that. Maybe if I drove the right car, belonged to the right sorts of organizations, had my name in the right publications, maybe I’d finally feel like I had arrived.

Welcome to the Rat Race, Indeed.

I think the most important thing that I’ve learned in the nine years since I graduated from high school is that really, none of that adds up to a hill of beans. Titles just bring pressure for more titles. Stuff just brings pressure for more stuff. Those things are nothing upon which to base an identity. What I couldn’t have appreciated then, but really do now, is that my identity really isn’t wrapped up in those things. My identity comes from the fact that God has claimed me–even on days when I fail miserably. As Thomas Merton said, “Who am I? I’m one beloved by Christ.” Maybe I’ll preach Paul and his list of credentials– and how in the end, he realized that wasn’t his identity. I don’t know, maybe they won’t be able to hear it any better than I would’ve been, but then again, maybe it gives them permission not to be perfect.



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