In sending you off – and that’s what a baccalaureate is about – a sending and a blessing…
Of all the things that Jesus said, one of the oddest and maybe seemingly harshest was this (evidently he said it a lot, see Matthew 10 and 16):
Luke 9:23-25 “…must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it…”
When we hear it, we tend to focus on that “denying” myself and “take up their cross daily” part… and look at it from the cost side of the equation…
But in looking carefully at the life of Jesus – who he is, what he came to do and bring – the force of this statement, and his whole life is much more about the following than the denying…
When Jesus said to his friends, the disciples, “follow me” – from the very beginning this was his message. He was inviting them to the amazing life and journey they were created and designed for.
Growing up I remember maps of the world… Kansas was the center of the map (the center now is usually the Atlantic ocean). We have been taught, you have grown up to believe, that this world begins and ends with us. And not only us, but our life, our circumstances, our dreams, desires and longings…and that life is only lived in how we can somehow manage the world that is right in front of us, feeling shame and insecurity from your past and consumed with making sense out of surviving the future.
But as you are being blessed and launched/sent off as graduates, Jesus’ words to his disciples are his words to you today… the invitation, literally the calling you have been created for is to recognize that there is a big world out there, with innumerable issues and struggles. Jesus Christ is on the move, bringing in his kingdom reign over all of creation… and his call to you, and the call you were created for, is to grab his hand, recognize and deny the limitations of your own desires and perspectives, and follow him into this world he loves. Jesus is moving throughout not only history but in every heart and every voice in every land and every nation. You are his voice, his hands, his care to those he calls you to stand beside.
Everywhere there are people that are in desperate need of people who will stand by them, for his sake and his glory.
Watch this as a reminder of how big God's world is, and how we are called to stand by those he loves: http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=2539741