“All who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, "Abba! Father!" it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ — if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him. .”
— Romans 8:14-17
In the United States, this month is a time of endings and beginnings. In May and June many of our colleges, high schools, elementary and pre-schools end their years and commission their graduates to go forth to their next adventure. As a college chaplain, I loved this time of year. During the final service, I always sent forth students; calling each forward by name with the community bunched in a tight circle, stretching out their arms, reaching to touch their friend that was graduating or leaving and praying over them. It was always sad to say good-bye, but the moment was also filled with new possibilities. The young people were ready to go out into the world on their next adventure.
As they were anointed to do what the others hoped one day to do—leave that place—they were also being commissioned and anointed to be followers of Christ.
My hope, as their chaplain, was that I would send them out be a Christ-like presence in the world. I prayed that during their time in this community they embodied and grew into their identities as a followers of Christ; and that in what profession they pursue that each of them will continue to try and be the best disciples they can be, and that their faith will continue to be defining characteristic. The hope is that when they leave, they will continue to personify the lessons they learned—that they will embrace their status as children of God.
It is wonderful that these students get a moment of commissioning. Yet, I hope that everyone who comes to any church I have served leaves with the sense that they are sent out into the world weekly. In the Eucharist meal, singing, praying, sermons and gatherings as a community, we are reminded of our unity with each other, Christ and the world. We are reminded of our call to be in ministry. That ministry is of people who have the inheritance of resurrection, and God’s glory. As we gather to worship we come together to remember, to be renewed, and to be prepared to be sent out into the world.
Even without a graduation or an anointing, each of us are being sent out to new work each week. All of us are commissioned to the work of discipleship. May we go out into the world remembering our commission and call to follow Christ, to make disciples, and to transform the world. When it gets tough, may we be reminded that God never said the journey would be easy, but we do have a community standing beside us.
Let us pray:
Gracious God, thank you for the joy and privilege of being your child and heir. Each day, give me the courage to ask what you would have me do in each moment, and when I feel your call to action give me the strength and wisdom to act as Christ would act. When I face suffering and sacrifice, offer me reassurance that you are with me to provide comfort and healing. Through it all you are with me, and you will sustain me. Let all that I do be for your glory. Amen.