This article is courtesy of Let's Worship Magazine.
As with so many other special emphasis Sundays, the temptation to subordinate the worship of God and the Word of God to a mere celebration of a human accomplishment such as graduation is very real. Plan the worship service on graduate-recognition Sunday to focus on glorifying God, who has made graduation possible.
Most congregations have a worship tradition of gifting graduates with either a Bible or an inspirational book. Many churches ask graduates to proceed in cap and gown for this service, since baccalaureate services are no longer observed. Whatever your church's tradition, honoring graduation in its glorification of God is appropriate.
Your focus for this service should highlight ways in which God has equipped students for graduation. Evidence of God's handiwork is apparent as the community of faith gathers for worship. Special guests will be present whose ministry has contributed significantly to the graduates' accomplishments. Recognizing these persons – family, schoolteachers, and Christian educators – is instructional for the graduates and the congregation in acknowledging their dependence on God and interdependence with one another.
Present the fruits of graduates' varied ministries as an act of worship on this special-emphasis day. Have the graduates lead worship through music, prayers, and Scripture readings. Schedule a testimony by a graduate that honors the the ministries of the church and its leaders. Perhaps a graduate's parent would like to testify as to the ways in which God has worked in the child's life. (Make sure you obtain permission from the graduate before asking the parent.)
Again, your impetus for the worship experience is to cast the graduates' accomplishments against the equipping backdrop of God's work through others. Use the following sermon summary as an idea starter for as you design your worship service.
Investments and dividends
I read a column about life investments and dividends. It echoed Paul's words to Timothy. The writer said that a plain bar of iron is worth about $5. Made into a horseshoe, that same bar of iron is worth about $11. Made into screwdrivers, it's worth about $15. Made into needles, it's worth about $3,500. The writer went on to say that the same is true of another material: you.
There's a lesson in that. But remember that iron bars don't just make themselves into horseshoes, screwdrivers, and needles. A master craftsperson fashions those iron bars into more valuable items.
So it has been in your life. Significant people have fashioned you into a more valuable person. Let's think about those persons, their investments in your life, and the great dividends you've received. Consider those persons who sought to transform you into something more valuable.
Your schoolteachers – "Be diligent to present yourselves approved to God" (2 Tim. 2:15, HCSB). Teachers who taught you in school gave their best efforts at getting you to study and to do your best. You obviously responded to some degree, or you wouldn't be here today, ready to graduate.
Your Sunday school teachers – Paul told young Timothy that once you study to show yourself approved and do your best you learn to "correctly teach the Word of truth." Your Sunday school teachers put you in touch week after week with the One who is the Truth, Jesus Christ. People who know the Truth and know how to handle it are valuable. But your best will never be good enough by itself. We humans need Someone, our Lord, to take our best and make it better. Our studying is limited, yet God is infinite.
Your parents - Paul expressed confidence in young Timothy's abilities and faith because of his family: "clearly recalling your sincere faith that first lived in your grandmother Lois, then in your mother Eunice, and that I am convinced is in you also" (1 Tim. 1:5, HCSB). Who you are today is, to a great extent, who your parents fashioned you to be.
Remember for a moment some of the investments your parents have made in your life. Your dividends are the result of their investments.
You don't graduate alone this week. The Lord God, through His providential care of you, has given each of these persons the opportunity to invest themselves in you. And they did, with the Lord's help. They have been Christ unto you.
As you leave this place and begin a new part of your journey, remember that they walk with you in the name of our Lord.
By L. Joey Faucette. "Ideas for Graduation and Mother's Day." Let's Worship, Spring 1999