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Thursday, December 9, 2021
I was honored with the invitation to lead the invocation and benediction at the commencement exercises of Jacksonville State University on Friday, December 10, 2021. I share it here with you so that you can join us, wherever you are and whenever you may pause, in the grand circle of prayer.
Let us pray.
God of Infinite Wisdom,
We pause at the beginning of these ceremonies to honor the one from whom all blessings flow. We gather here today to celebrate a major step forward, into new places with new people and new experiences. Let us not forget the blessings that have flowed so richly behind us. We thank you for the knowledge gained, the life lessons learned, and the relationships forged in this place.
We thank you for the grand institution of Jacksonville State University, which has created space for us to build a strong foundation for life. We thank you for the faculty and staff who have given of themselves freely, and for the families and friends who have cheered us on to the finish line.
God of the journey, may these commencement exercises be exactly that, a “commencement” – a new beginning, a fresh start. May it be less about pomp and circumstance and more about life’s purpose in all circumstances.
After the robes, tassels, and mortar boards are set aside, may we remain clothed with courage to move on to new adventures. May our next steps be not so much about pursuing a career as about discovering a vocation, for life is not about getting what we want but about becoming what we were created to be.
May this diploma we hold in our hand today be more than a piece of paper. May it be a blank palette on which a new work of art is formed by the hand of the living God. May the God who began a good work in you be faithful to complete it.
And for those who walk across this sturdy stage today, may it serve as a threshold to a whole new season of life. We ask that you light us on fire, fill us with breath, strengthen us with spirit, and set us on a brightly lit path.
And now, with deep respect for all faiths that might be represented here, I offer this prayer in the name of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Now that the applause is quieted and the speeches concluded, may your voices rise up to pronounce peace and justice in this world. May you find a profound sense of purpose in your vocation, in your families, and in yourselves. May you spread kindness, generosity, and virtue wherever you go. May you go and set the world on fire.
And above all things, may you be the YOU that you were created to be.
Amen and Amen!