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Graduation in a Time of COVID

During the past six months at Immanuel Lutheran College, students, parents, and staff have learned that expectations do not always match reality. When the students left campus for spring break on March 13, no one expected that the rest of the school year would have to be conducted at home through distance learning.
While the college and seminary were allowed to have a small indoor graduation at Messiah Lutheran Church on May 30, the prospect of hosting a larger gathering of twenty-five high school graduates with family and friends seemed unlikely.
However, on Saturday, August 1, under sunny skies shaded by the tall green pines, all twenty-five of the high school seniors were able to return to campus along with family members for an outdoor graduation service.
The seniors were reminded that the name of our school—Immanuel, “God with us”—was literally born out of events that shattered human expectations. Expecting to live an ordinary life in the small town of Nazareth, Mary and Joseph were informed by an angel that Mary would miraculously conceive her first Child by means of the Holy Spirit.
The reality was that this Child, Who was true God and true Man, would save all people from their sins. Jesus Christ bridged the gap between the expectation of eternal death and the reality of eternal life by His sacrifice on the cross.
The senior class verse from Galatians 2:20 is a wonderful reminder of how Jesus loves us and remains with us, even during these uncertain times: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
Just a few weeks after the closing of the school year, ILC started the new school year with an outdoor opening service on Sunday, August 23. In spite of the various gathering restrictions, we are grateful to the Lord for each day that we can hold in-person classes and worship our Immanuel together!

Joel Gullerud is a professor at Immanuel Lutheran College in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.