is the bestowing of diplomas upon students who have
completed the prescribed course of study.
names the same event with the emphasis on a new beginning.
The graduates enter upon a new course or new experience in life.
Schools invite guest speakers for the graduation or commencement exercise. We suspect that those who attend will soon forget most if not all that was told them by the speaker. (For the most part, the graduates won’t lose much.)
So what is the difference between graduation from a public institution and one from a church institution? The difference lies in the substance of the message delivered. Among us—and today we must distinguish ourselves from most Lutheran institutions—the message brought to our graduates is a reiteration of what they have been taught in their education. The specifics may differ from year to year, but the source and substance of the message is the Word of God!
The education that young men and women receive at Immanuel in Eau Claire—as well as at the CLC’s other Immanuel High School, Mankato, Minnesota—is priceless. The foundation of all that is taught in religion classes is Holy Scripture. How can it be otherwise? Scripture lays the foundation for the certainty of life in heaven through the grace of God manifest in the person and work of the Savior, Jesus Christ. Every math and science class is filtered through the Word of God, to whom belongs the glory and praise for the universe and for the orderliness of science and math, as well as for the mind to assimilate and to teach what is necessary for life on Earth.
And how does one teach history without an acknowledgement that it is the Creator God, the God of justice and love, who guides and directs the events of history to the accomplishment of His end, and the ultimate welfare of His redeemed children?
Indeed the fount and source of what is taught in our schools is the Word whereby students are confirmed in the conviction that “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them Your servant is warned, And in keeping them there is great reward” (Psalm 19:8-11).
Graduates may not remember what they heard at their graduation or who said it. One thing they can remember is that what they were taught was of God, and that the address at their graduation did not contradict what they knew to be God’s Truth.
A prevailing thought of graduation speeches in government schools is that students should go out and take the world by storm; their fate lies in their hands; they should therefore be all that they can be; nothing is beyond their reach; be tolerant of every philosophy and lifestyle; and help bring the world together.
By contrast, the graduates of our schools are reminded to go forth reflecting their Father in heaven. They are encouraged to utilize the gifts God has given them to benefit the world in which they live, always reflecting who they are as His dear children through faith in Christ Jesus and bearing witness to His truth in word and deed. As they reflect the will of God and give glory to Him through His witness to the gospel of salvation in the world, the Lord will bless them and give success to their labors. As their walk is heavenward and is focused on the Lord Jesus, they know that whatever befalls them, He will take them to be with Him where He is (John 14:1-3).
Graduates who have been taught in and through the Word of God learn that they will receive the ultimate diploma of grace upon God’s call. They are further taught that each day is another day of opportunity, a day of new beginning, another day to live to the glory of the Lord until they enjoy the glory of heaven.
To all in whom the Word of God lives and dwells—whether graduating from our church schools or from public institutions—we wish the Lord’s richest blessings as you walk the walk of faith in every pursuit of life. And whomever you forget and whatever you forget, remember the Lord your God and His Word. Keep close to your heart both the instruction and the promises of God spoken through Joshua to Israel of old: “Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:7-9).