Saturday, May 30, 2009

Celebrations that Sting

This month has been filled with graduations at our neck of the woods. Proud, tearful, hopeful reflections on achievement with a silent undertow of loss.

Appropriate that our commencement celebrations should roughly coincide with Pentecost. Pentecost was sort of commencement for God's people. Until then, His people had had a more physically present manifestation of God - the pillar of fire & cloud, the sacrifices, the Temple, Jesus the Incarnate Himself. Now they would have in invisible manifestation of His company, the Holy Spirit. Until then, they had a rigid, literally carved-in-stone Law. Now they would have it written in their hearts ready at hand to apply to every new situation. Until then, they had been concentrated in one place. Now they would be sent out to all those places whose tongues they spoke on that day - and beyond.

Just so with our fledgling children. No longer with they have us physically with them or hear us speaking the laws of our households. They will need to be able to carry those things in their hearts. They will need to seize that governance for themselves. No longer will our family be actually located in one place. Now our children will become outposts of our family in the cultures whose languages we have taught them.

It is a day when our children must come fully into their adult minds and responsibility, even if they still have a short season of preparation for a particular calling. Boot camp or college or even a professional internship are not places for children. Their minds must be mature; their determination to live out their convictions must be firm; especially if their skills need to be honed.

For the Church Pentecost was a day of great joy and empowerment, putting an end to the fear and loss of the crucifixion and those days of longing following Christ's ascension. Hopefully, we parents will find ways to imitate our Father as we send our children out into their tender maturity. They feel as unsure of themselves as the early Church on Pentecost. They need to leave the graduation experience sure that we will be wind and fire to them as they speak the breaking, healing Word into the worlds God brings them. They need to go out knowing, as Peter did speaking to thousands that first Pentecost day, that they can do things they never thought themselves capable of doing. They need to understand that the things they learned at Mother's knee and under Father's hand have greater power than they ever dreamed.

We easily identify with the Church at Pentecost, but perhaps, as we hope to do well at this end of our lives, we should try to see what Pentecost meant to the Father. Tomorrow...

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