Last Saturday night at the Year 12 Graduation it was my privilege to share some words of encouragement and a final blessing for the graduating students.
The Graduation is always a special occasion, as it marks a significant moment in the lives of the students as they come to an end of their schooling.
It is also a significant moment for families. Families play a pivotal role in supporting the educational endeavour of the school, and parent partnership is a central tenent of the educational approach at MECS. For some families, this may be the final moment of their association with MECS, be this a year or two, or decades of commitment to Christian education.
And finally, it is also a significant moment for our school community. It is a time of celebrating, storytelling, bidding well, and sending out. It is bittersweet for our community. While we relish this culminating moment of the students’ achievement, we also acknowledge the loss of these unique people in our daily lives at school and the changing relationship we will have going into the future.
As I sat down to write the speech, I was faced with a sense of responsibility. As a representative of the broader voice of MECS, speaking a final encouragement and blessing over these students, what message to give? What words to use in a 5 minute speech to encapsulate our hopes in what they have learnt through their time at MECS? How to frame our wishes for their future?
In the end, I came to rest on two key ideas.
Firstly, in the midst of the wide variety of emotions experienced at such a time of transition, to be reminded of God’s constancy. At times in our lives of great change and upheaval, it is a comforting reflection that, as it says in Hebrew 13, ‘Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever’. When things in life feel a bit adrift, when there are a lot of questions and uncertainty we can be anchored by the certain knowledge of God’s great unwavering love. I hope that in the graduating students’ time at MECS we have shared a sense of that hope. To know that they are deeply loved by God, and always will be. No matter where their path leads, that love will remain constant.
And secondly, I wanted to spur them on towards kindness. In my role as VCE Coordinator, I am often talking to students about the process of the VCE, of how study scores work and ATARs are calculated. While I certainly wish to encourage students to strive for academic excellence, in the end, I feel that the value of marks will fade, but the power of kindness remains. Kindness to oneself, to others, and to this earth. This is a quality that, if embraced, will help them as they go forward to face life’s many joys and challenges. I think that to leave a legacy of kindness would be a powerful witness to what it means to live in the light of God’s great love.
Just as I spoke these encouragements to the Year 12s, so I encourage the rest of our school community to remember them. May we walk in kindness, and may we hold firmly to the hope ‘that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord’ (Romans 8:38-39).