It was an honor to lead the invocation for Commencement Exercises at Jacksonville State University, held outdoors on August 1, 2020 at the JSU Gamecock Stadium. This was spring graduation that was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
I carefully wrote my invocation as a gift to the JSU community, and I thought I'd share it here as well.
Let us pray.
God of Solomon and Sophia, God of Divine Wisdom and Grace,
We pause this day to pray. We pause as outstanding scholars are honored here, and we pause to honor the One that merits our greatest respect. We pause to point to the Source and Sustainer of all that is true and all that is good. It is with deep gratitude that we pause, and it is with deep gratitude that we pray.
We pray for these candidates, that the academic degrees awarded today might be more than accolades. May these degrees serve as seeds. May they be seeds that are nourished by the soil of real-life experience, and may they be watered by the rain of struggle. May they be seeds that are fed by the sun of enlightenment, so that they blossom and make the world a more beautiful place.
May these degrees, these seeds, represent not only the accomplishment of knowledge but the continued quest to become.
Fill these candidates with a faith in what the future brings. May they have soundness of mind in a world that can’t seem to agree on what constitutes truth. May they have abundance of hope, no matter if their graduation was delayed due to disease and unease.
May the memories of this day not be overshadowed by a pandemic. May they unleash the power of the academic so that the seeds planted today spread like an epidemic.
May these commencement exercises be exactly that, commencement exercises. May they be a commencement, a kickoff, a fresh start … not only the ending of a helpful chapter in life but the beginning of a hopeful chapter in life.
May they be commencement indeed. May they also be exercises, knowing that you are not finished with us yet. You are never finished with us yet.
God of both enlightenment and love, we pray (in the words of the Apostle Paul) that these candidates be transformed by the renewal of their minds. In that spirit, we offer these exercises to you.
And now with deep respect for all faiths that might be represented here, I pray in the name of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, whom scripture calls the “Wisdom of God.”
Amen and amen.