In Spokane for SK's graduation where we celebrated all weekend long, and I do mean all weekend, the list of events was long and varied, some deep and so thought-provoking they began with a lump in one's throat and end with tears rolling down one's face, others so gut-bustingly funny, it makes me wish I could have walked all the days of these last four year with these students, just to live through them all with them. Capturing a glimpse, however, is all that was afforded me--and all the other parents--before these brilliant, sharp as whips, clever and funny young adults tossed their tassels from one side to the other, took off their gowns and said their final goodbyes to these good old school days.
Friday night was the Communion and Commissioning Service that began the weekend. As early as a year ago, our friends who have long been a part of this community told us we absolutely could not miss this service. It's always been their favorite part of Commencement. Afterward, I fully understood that. Three things stood out to me from that service.
To begin with, it was significant that the first event of the weekend was the 'sending-out' one. From this point on, the graduates were already on their way. I know this is so because right in the middle of this very prayerful, very God-present service, there came a moment when the graduating seniors among us were asked to stand and speak to God, speak such words that should have had them all on their knees. If their knees hadn't buckled from the very weight of them. I had closed my eyes to listen (and for once in my life, hadn't read ahead in the program), but when they said the second line, my eyes jolted wide and sought the page. I had to be sure of what I was hearing.
Here it is, the covenant Whitworth University seniors make with God at their commissioning service:
I am no longer my own, but yours. Put me to what you will; rank me with whom you will. Put me to doing; put me to suffering. Let me be employed for you or laid aside for you; exalted for you or brought low for you. Let me be full; let me be empty. Let me have all things; let me have nothing. I freely and heartily yield all things to your pleasure and disposal. And now, O glorious and blessed God, Creator, Son and Holy Spirit, you are mine and I am yours. So be it. And the covenant that I have made on Earth, let it be ratified in Heaven. Amen.
Let's sit with that a moment.
No, let's kneel with it.
Can you say that with truth and faith and trust that whatever He brings will be good?
I love this covenant. I love that SK's graduation began with this.
And with this: After the covenant, came Communion and the Annointing of the graduates. As I told Beve later, I got very teary when I watched SK be annointed. "You and every other mom," he said. Yes, of course. But there was also this. Our youngest daughter was annointed by one of Beve's oldest friends, who is a fine, much loved professor at Whitworth. We're almost always asked how we know RP when we're around Whitworth, and people are always a little surprised to hear we've known him since elementary school. But there he was Friday night, the esteemed, always relational RP looking intently into SK's face, speaking gently to her as he annointed her with oil. And just for a moment as I watched, the canvas cracked, and I suddenly saw RP as he'd been when he was SK's age, or a decade earlier, with big bushy hair, who was something of a goofball. RP? I thought. Really? Then I slid my glance over at my own husband and the same thought came to me about him. SW? Really? However did I get from there to here?
And then the canvas closed up again. Because I know exactly how we all got here. To that night. To the graduation weekend of SK. God. God was in the night, in the moment, in all the moments between. We'd made covenants. Promises we'd sometimes kept, and sometimes hadn't. But He had. The reason Israel was considered a covenant people isn't because they kept their covenant, but because God did. Again and again. And so Friday night when I wondered if those oh-so-very-young people knew what they were saying, God knew and will keep His promise to them. And they are annointed now. Sent out into the world to serve those He calls them to serve. That's what RP said that night, that Whitworth sends out its graduates. Sending them out to do Kingdom work in honor of the King.
I could have come home after that service. I really could have. I didn't need a gown or tassel or long speech to tell me she was finished and ready. And I'm very glad that we started the weekend in the right place--honoring God, committing the graduates to Him, and them to the world.
And you know what He said when He gave the disciples the same commission, "Remember, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." That's the promise He will never break.