The Rev. Glenn Fletcher, pastor of student ministries, Christ Community Church, 1100 Kasold Drive:
Well done, you have earned the right to celebrate this momentous achievement. You have passed the education of your youth. The next chapter awaits, standing ready to push you to limits not yet known to you. Though it may seem at times a weight too hard to bear, a challenge far too complex to comprehend and a pain so intense you can’t move, know this: These are the defining moments of life. The turning points should you so choose.
Don’t settle into mediocrity, in whatever form that may look like. Do not let any man or woman define you. You are your own unique individual crafted for a divine purpose in life. And do not be fooled into lowering your standards only to follow the masses into ruin and disappointment. Set your own course. Rise above. Meet all challenges face-to-face. And overcome them.
The world is starving for men and women who will stand up for what’s right, to lovingly speak the truth in all things, and to be courageous in the midst of adversity. If by this point in your life you haven’t already seen the best and worst of mankind, you will in this next chapter of your life. You are entering your adulthood at a time when our world is greatly divided, financially unstable, liberties threatened and horrible crimes are being committed against humanity.
The question is which side will you be on? Will you be part of the problem, either willfully or through passive silence? Or will you choose to become part of the solution to this world’s woes? The world needs authentic heroes. Our world needs you.
“Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.” — Philippians 4:13
— Send email to Glenn Fletcher at email@example.com.
The Rev. John McFarland, pastor, Christ Covenant Reformed Presbyterian Church, 2312 Harvard Road:
People will little note nor long remember what I say here.
This time, the speaker is right! But hear this as you rush onto your next big thing: Vanity of vanities, all is vanity! All is emptiness. As the Bible is God’s own truth, there is a way this depressed observation is factual reality, even as we protest: “If all is meaningless, even what you said has no meaning, so we are lost from the start.” Context is king; know that the “vanity” verse (Ecclesiastes 1:2) is from “wise” King Solomon after his experiment in pleasure-seeking.
Pleasure itself, pleasant and pleasing, is neutral, souring when its pursuit finds foolish ends and means. Solomon, after seeking God, chose to pursue pleasures “under the sun,” as if that burning gas ball is all that’s above. “Under the sun” was shorthand for the worldview that there is no God above creation, so man here is free to be king, pursuing happiness on his terms.
Solomon, his treasury valued in many billions, conducted a thorough taste-test. He sought meaning apart from God in fields of industry, desire, labor, laughter, inheritance, justice, money, childhood, politics, popularity, dreams, poetry, wine, power, history, architecture, gardening, books, domination, agriculture, zoology, herds, sensuality, collections, choirs, fame. What a life!
Solomon’s report: 35 times, “vanity,” true when one chases life without God over and under everything. The closing counsel from the wisest mere man pled the importance of serving the Lord now: Fear God and keep his commands; this is the whole duty of man. To “fear” him is to “know” him, the reason Jesus came to Earth, to make his father known. For those who admit their inability to “keep” God’s commandments, that same Jesus is the lamb who removes sin.
Learn from the wise, my friends.
— Send email to John McFarland at JMMLawrence@aol.com.