Pastor Kevin Redding
Adult Ministries Pastor, Shiloh Community Church
The month of May is best known for 2 things, Mother’s Day and Graduations. We celebrate both moms and graduates, and we plan what to do for and with them. We ask what they want (Moms just want the family around them; grads just want money), and take moms out for lunch and give graduates parties. Those honors are well deserved.
I will admit that for many, many years I thought the word “commencement” meant something in the arena of “completion” or “celebrating a significant accomplishment.” It wasn’t until about 7-10 years ago I found out that “commencement” meant just the opposite—it’s celebrating a “beginning.” It’s a recognition and celebration that graduation is truly launching into a new beginning; a milestone that isn’t meant to be the end.
Let me tie these two thoughts together. This past week, we have been spending a lot of time over at my mother-in- laws house. While we are normally over there for Mother’s Day, this week was different. Chrissy got a text last Sunday while she was at church saying that her mom was taken to the ER because of a fall that she had a few days earlier. Later that day, Chrissy went to her mom’s house to see how she was doing, and knew that this “recovery” would be different. That’s when the events of the week happened…a hospital bed would be delivered, home health would be involved, a hospice nurse would be assigned. So that week, we visited, cried, laughed, sang, prayed, and said our thank yous and goodbyes.
One moment that I will never forget in the midst of this process, was our time as a family on Friday night. Family members had been coming into Mary’s room throughout the day. Some family had been in and out all week, some just coming in that day and seeing her for the first time in this process. In the early evening, there was a small group of people sitting around Mary’s bed, and they began to sing hymns to their mom. One of the cousins went and got some hymnbooks and more people came into the room to sing. Eventually the room was filled with family, singing, prayers and Chrissy’s dad reminding us of the confidence we have because of Jesus Christ. It was one of the most precious, intimate, worship experiences that I’ve been a part of. In those final moments, mom was blessed by what she loved…her family and praises being sung to her Lord. She experienced what she wants every Mother’s Day, her family spending time with her…her children, grand-children and great-grand- children…and her family spending time with each other.
On Saturday, May 13…the day before Mother’s Day…Chrissy’s mom “graduated” and her final commencement had taken place. While the temptation was to think, “it’s over,” in reality it was just the beginning. It was the beginning of her life with Jesus (I Corinthians 5). It was her walking over the threshold of the perishable and taking on the imperishable. It was her exchanging the corruptible for the incorruptible (I Corinthians 15). As she passed, with tears running down my face, my thoughts kept saying, “she ran the race, she finished the course, and NOW there is laid up for her a crown of righteousness.” She ran well. She ran strong. She won the race. She received the ultimate graduation gift…the riches of Heaven.
You will be missed, but never forgotten. Happy Commencement Day.