The following sermon summary is an idea starter for you to use in designing a worship experience to celebrate God's work in the lives of high-school or college graduates.
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.
Today's high school graduates grew up with television and are visual learners. One way you can communicate more effectively with them through this sermon is to use the following worship as visual aids in worship:
a bar of iron
Each time you refer to the item, hold it up and show it to them. This reinforcement promises to cement in their minds your biblical instruction.
There is a lesson in that. However, you have to remember that iron bars do not 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 us think about those persons, their investments in your life, and the awesome dividends you've received - persons who sought to transform you from a bar of iron into something more valuable.
1. Your schoolteachers
"Study to shew thyself approved," the King James Version reads. The Holman Christian Standard Bible says, "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God." 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 would not be here today, ready to graduate.
2. Your Sunday school teachers
Paul told young Timothy that once you study to show yourself approved and do your best you learn to "correctly teaching the word of truth." Your Sunday School teachers put you in touch week after week with the One who is the Truth, Jesus Christ. They sought to take you, as an $11 horseshoe, and make you into screwdrivers worth even more, about $15.
People who know the Truth and know how to handle it are more valuable than those who just study and do their best. Our 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.
3. Your parents
They took you as $15 screwdrivers, sharpened you, and made you into $3,500's worth of needles.
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 largely who your parents fashioned you to be and you will always be a part of them.
Remember for a moment some of the investments your parents have made in your life.
Don't remember just the times when their flaws and imperfections scarred you.
Remember what your parents have invested in your life that has grown you in positive ways.
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 path of your journey, remember that they walk with you in the name of our Lord.