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home : bishop : columns

6/15/2017 9:00:00 AM
BISHOP'S COLUMN
A message to graduates
'To make history, you can't just surf. You have to move out and sail.'


THE STUDENT BODY of St. Clement's School in Saratoga Springs, assembled for an end-of-year photo.
'To make history, you can't just surf. You have to move out and sail.'

THE STUDENT BODY of St. Clement's School in Saratoga Springs, assembled for an end-of-year photo.
BY BISHOP EDWARD B. SCHARFENBERGER


Let me add my congratulations to those who are graduating this season.

I'll keep my message simple: You stand at a crossroads. You have to make a choice. You are about to become history or to make history.

The graduation ceremony (and the frivolities that might follow) is not the real choice. You must make that choice. No one else can make that choice for you.

It's easy to become history; it's hard to make history. You become history by letting history come to you. This is easy. It's what many people settle for.

It's like surfing: You wait for the tide (or temptation) and then you get caught up in it. It carries you. Sometimes, it seems like fun. The bigger the tide, the bigger the thrill. You never fight it. You ride with it.

It seems cool -- except for one thing. You never really leave the shore. You always come back to the same place you left, or someplace a lot like it. That's how tides work. They pick you up, pull you out to sea, maybe even drown you and then bring you back to shore, more dead than alive.

History repeats itself. Follow the tide and what you are now, you will always be -- no more, and maybe even less. You will get older -- but only older. You will be an older version of what you are now. You will not have much to talk about regarding where you went or what you accomplished, because you will have chosen to become history. It will speak for you, perhaps, but you will have no voice in it.

Or you can make history. To make history, you can't just surf. You have to move out and sail. You have to choose to swim against the tide and use the energy of the Spirit wind to turn it around and make it work for you.

That takes faith and effort. You have to fight against inertia and learn how to navigate, often by trial and error, and never without listening to the voice of God's Spirit within you, who will never leave you alone.

You will make mistakes, but you will learn from them. And you need more than a surfboard and fashionable swimwear. You need to build your ark, heed your inner compass and explore where it summons you to go.

Most people don't do this -- or don't want to, or don't think they can. But you can.

You must embark now, without delay, on this adventure. This is your day. You, the class of 2017, are now poised to take a place in history. You will no longer be students of your alma mater: You are now graduates.

Symbolically, you may move the tassels on your caps to the other side as you accept your well-earned diploma and listen to your teachers and families acknowledge your accomplishment with their applause. But you will no longer be what you once were. Your life is about to change.

At this moment, there are no new tests to take, no more papers to write or grades to worry about; no more hand-raising, clocks to watch in the back of the room, lines to wait on in the hallway, friends to walk home with. Today, you have finally reached the finish line.

Your class picture will show you all together, but you will never be together in the same way again. Each of you must walk a different path -- not as a class, but as a person who is a part of the class of 2017.

It's the last day of class, but also the first day of the rest of your life.

There is a world out there waiting for you. It even has plans for you. You may already have noticed some of those plans: plans to define and shape you, to tell you who you are and what kind of person you are to become.

The world will tell you what you are to wear -- often, that you are what you wear. It will try to convince you that you are little more than how you look, who you know or what you earn or drive.

Follow the world and you will never become who you really are called to be.

I invite you to take a different path, one that will lead you away from the mold, to do something you may not think at first has anything to do with your graduation: Ask God, from the bottom of your heart, what plan God has for you!

You can be confident that your diploma -- and, if you have been so blessed or accomplished, your scholarship, special award or generous gift -- will encourage you on to bigger and better things. But keep God in your travel plans as you launch your ship.

Jesus told His disciples, who were often afraid and got lost in storms, tending to wander: "I am the way and the truth and the life." This is the best advice to follow. Trust what our faith has told us: Jesus never abandons His friends. He will stay with you, support you and send you His Spirit "to teach and remind you."

You will never get lost or be alone, because He is here for you always.

Even if you are not graduating this year and just happen to be reading this, you can share this advice with a graduate you know, or follow it yourself! In my own life, it has never failed me. It will not fail you, either.

Recall the tried and true words of Jesus: Seek first the kingdom of God, and all other things will be given to you -- true friends, heaven and even the world itself!

(Follow the Bishop at www.facebook.com/AlbanyBishopEd and on Twitter @AlbBishopEd.)



Reader Comments

Posted: Saturday, June 17, 2017
Article comment by: Donna Haggerty-Bianchini

Bishop Ed,
What an inspiring, eloquent message you gave to the graduates. I pray they heed your advice. You cease to amaze me Bishop Ed. I love the fact that you seem to be more outspoken and confident while preaching to your flock. I love it! In our world today that seems to be dominated by hate and violence it takes tremendous courage to stand out, be strong and lead. God bless you and keep up the great work. People notice! 🙏




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