One of the many enduring images we will remember from the spring of 2020 will be the unique ways that families, communities, and high schools are recognizing and honoring this year's graduates during the COVID-19 pandemic. Their sons and daughters may not get to walk across the stage and shake a hand as they receive their diploma, but parents may feel the lump in the throat and tears in their eyes just the same. High school graduation signals not just the end of a significant chapter in a young person's life, but, usually, the end of living at home with parents and family. It is a proud and satisfying moment for mom and dad, but an emotional one as well.

At my daughter Lauren's baccalaureate, the closing song was a duet sung by Lauren and her best friend, Heather Coggins. It was Michael W. Smith's "Friends are Friends Forever", and there was hardly a dry eye in the house among students and parents alike. As they finished, the entire assemblage gave them a standing ovation. Everyone knew they were singing not just for themselves, but for all their senior classmates and friends.

Graduation is also a reminder that maybe the most important and difficult job around is parenting. It is one of the few jobs of which the purpose is to work oneself out of a job! How well have we done our work? Time will tell. But for all the families who have a graduate this year, I share with you this poem written by Michael H. Popkin. It is titled, "A Final Gift: Letting Go" (to a teen leaving home).


Boats in the harbor are safe near shore, far from the unknown sea,

But just as boats were made for more, it's the same with you and me.

Those who would anchor their teens with a stone in hopes of preventing a wreck,

Find that their fears are never undone and the stone ends up weighing both necks.

So I give you a port called home where your ship was built so strong,

And if you need to harbor here, you'll know that you always belong.

And I give you the maps you'll need that you may set the course

For places that I'll never see, so go without remorse.

Tilting your sails into the wind with hope and vision and courage,

I kiss you once, then touch your chin, and wish you bon voyage!



In the name of the One who can do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine,
Bruce Jones, Pastor and Co-Creator,
Imagine Church of the Carolinas

To a Teen Beginning a New Chapter

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