Scripture Romans 6:1-11
What then are we to say? Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin go on living in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.
For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. For whoever has died is freed from sin. But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. The death he died, he died to sin, once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
“Living the Life”
There was a popular book that I read some years ago that was later made into a movie. “The Perfect Storm” it was called, and it tells about a fishing boat helpless at the epicenter of three different huge Atlantic storms. In the last scene an unbelievably gigantic wave twenty maybe thirty stories tall washes over the poor boat. The basic message of the book and the movie? Don’t get yourself into a Perfect Storm like that!
Today I have to tell you that we are right in the middle of a Perfect Storm, but, fortunately, no heavy winds, no surging waves, no need for life jackets, because this is a perfect storm not of three hurricanes, but a perfect storm of blessings! Baccalaureate Sunday, Father’s Day and the Lord’s Supper. All three at once in one single service. They said it couldn’t be done, but we’re going to do it. They said we might not survive, but we’re going to get through it together! Because we’re willing to do nearly anything we can to offer the Gospel of Jesus Christ to a world hungry for justice and peace, thirsty for new hope and possibility.
Maybe graduation all by itself is a perfect storm? If so, our graduates are right in the middle of it. Every senior leaving high school is in that storm. Who am I? Where am I going? What am I becoming? But this year, like no other, the storm is a severe one. The nation is dealing with a serious virus that has upended your senior year and a big portion of the economy and the future job market. On top of that, the ugliness of racism has been exposed again, and deep questions must be answered that have been long deferred. These things obviously affect everyone, but you, our beloved graduates, have it right in front of you.
So, today, our prayer is that you remain committed to the life journey of study and learning, as you get ready for your first year of college. Our prayer for graduates is for strength of character in a world that is morally challenging. Our prayer is for resolve in a world that tries to push and pull us in wrong directions. Our prayer is for honesty and sincerity in a world that is often dishonest and cynical. The simple lessons of love and faith, caring and generosity, grace and peace, first learned in Sunday School, will carry you through the worst of life’s storms, living the life God has intended for you from the very beginning.
Paul the apostle if Christ urges us to always walk in the newness of life. This walk is not just living peacefully with your family and friends. It also involves crossing borders and boundaries to unfamiliar, new places. It may involve caring for people with serious diseases. It may involve teaching people with challenging special needs. It may involve people with a lifetime of bad habits. It may be cultivating the ability to reach out to people very different from yourself. It may involve reaching out to people who are stuck in perfect storms of their own.