It is June, my friends, and you and I both know what that means.
The school year is drawing to an end, and for the Class of 2016, graduation is only moments away.
But the graduation ceremony is not the only event scheduled for our high school seniors this week. Tonight, we will hold our annual baccalaureate service.
As the students began planning the service, they realized that some basic information on what the baccalaureate service is might be helpful.
The advertising that has been sent out through the school reads as follows, “A baccalaureate ceremony is a religious service in honor of graduates that is separate from a graduation ceremony. (Our) service is a non-denominational religious celebration held to thank and praise God for achieving the milestone of graduation.”
Baccalaureate places the students’ accomplishment of graduation within the context of the will and blessings of God.
For the past several years, and even more so this year, the students of each graduating class have taken the lead in planning the service with adults from the community providing advice and guidance.
Since my arrival in Sunnyside six years ago, I have tried to be one of the adults involved in each year’s baccalaureate in some way.
Sometimes, I have delivered the homily for the service; at other times I have only prepared the worship folder.
It is a privilege each year to see these young men and women claiming their faith and stepping forth in the confident knowledge that God in Christ Jesus is calling them.
Centuries ago, John Donne wrote, “Every man’s death diminishes me because I am involved in mankind.”
It is for this reason that I believe baccalaureate is so important. We are connected to one another in ways we cannot realize; we are involved with one another.
These are your graduates, Sunnyside. They may or may not belong to your church, but you share the same grocery stores, the same doctors, the same post office, the same roads and the same sunlit valley.
Most importantly, we share the same Savior, Jesus Christ, and we share His sacred command to love one another.
Baccalaureate is our chance to gather as a community of Christians and pronounce God’s blessings on these young women and men as they embark on the next chapter in their lives.
Brothers and sisters, I hope you will join me at 7 p.m. in the Sunnyside High School auditorium to give thanks and praise to God for the wonderful, faithful, young people our community has raised.
— Pastor Katrina Walther ministers at Our Saviour’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Sunnyside.