On Faith: a prayer for our 2011 graduates
It is good to surround our high school graduates with our prayers. The Two Harbors community gathered in a baccalaureate service last week to pray for them.
Parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles, pastors, Sunday school teachers, and congregational members have prayed for them. All of these prayers have been added to a prayer that Jesus prayed.
In the Gospel of John we read: "Father, I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of all those who will believe in me through their word" (John 17:15-18, 20)
This is part of a prayer that Jesus prays for his disciples. It is called the "High Priestly Prayer" and, in a very real sense, it is his "Graduation Prayer."
For the disciples, it was a time of transition in their lives. They had followed Jesus and learned from him. But now they would no longer sit at the feet of their teacher. They would be going out into the world to do what Jesus had trained them to do. And so Jesus prays for them.
He prays that God will protect them. He prays that God will keep them in the truth. He entrusts his disciples with the work he has begun and prays that they will keep the faith, do his work, and carry his name to the ends of the earth.
To this prayer and all the others I add mine as well:
God of all life, in naming and claiming these young people as your own, you blessed them with your Spirit, promised your aid, and called them into discipleship. We pray now for all those entering new ventures after graduation. We praise you for their gifts and ask for your continued blessing.
For those graduating into lives of employment, lead them to work that honors you and benefits the world's need. God of daily labor, bless them today and always.
For those continuing their study, as their knowledge grows, give them wisdom to serve you through their learning. God of all truth and understanding, bless them today and always.
For those who have yet to decide where life's next turn will take them, give them patience with the struggle, hope for the future, and confidence that you will guide them. God of all possibilities, bless them today and always.
Protect all graduates from temptation and harm. If they experience failure or disappointment, please keep them from cynicism and despair. God of all mercy, bless them today and always.
Bless parents and others who share concern for graduating seniors. Reassure them they have done their best and help them entrust their children to your care. God of all grace, bless them today and always.
To you, O Lord, we commend all graduating seniors. By your Spirit help each of them to be a light that shines before others, that all may see their good works and glorify you. God of all power and love, bless them today and always.
The Rev. Phil Berge has been pastor of Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Two Harbors since 1991. His wife Susan is pastor at Knife River Lutheran Church. They have two children, Andrew and Elizabeth.