In case you missed it: Sunday, June 5, was Graduate Recognition Sunday at St. Thomas. We honored all of our 2016 graduates and Rachel Sullivan gave an inspiring message, offering God’s blessing to all (see below for an excerpt of Rachel’s message).
Congratulations to the following graduates:
From High School- Jordan Barker, Anna Chambers, Jillian Chambers, Lilly Chambers, Lily DiLorenzo, Brody Fulsher, Ben Kelenski, and Ben Porter. From College- Abbey Moehlau, Elliot Pearson, Allie Richardson, and Victoria Thompson, and with an Advanced degree- Alesha Beistline.
“Dream Big, Live Small” – by Rachel Sullivan
It was a Saturday night in 1980 and I had just finished rolling up my wet long hair into pink sponge rollers. The next day was Sunday so I had to be looking my best. I raced through this task because I was on a mission….to get to the living room as fast as possible because two back-to-back episodes of my two favorite shows were about to begin. Two hours of TV viewing bliss. The Love Boat at 8:00 pm followed by Fantasy Island at 9:00 pm. But as I made a beeline for the comfy avocado green chair I was forced to pause. In the air was the sweetest aroma known to humankind….my Mom’s homemade apple pie baking in the oven. There is nothing like it…is there? My mom had a secret recipe for her pie crust that no one knows to this day but it always browned to perfection and melted in your mouth. This was her tradition. Every Saturday night of my childhood my mom would bake a pie. Most of these pies were for her family, but, on many occasions two pies were baked. One of the pies might have went to the neighbor down the road who just found out her son was diagnosed with a serious illness or for my great aunt and uncle, both in their nineties, living in a remote farmhouse struggling to get by and always very appreciative of a pie visit from my mom. It may have been a small gesture for my mom to throw another pie in the oven if she was already baking one, but, it meant a lot to the recipients of those pies. It was a small thing done with great love. Incidentally, her skill at baking pies was not passed down to the next generation namely me. Matt often states that he was sold a “bill of goods” when he married me because he thought “like mother/like daughter” and hasn’t seen a pie produced from our oven in the past 20 years.
Today the message is entitled “Dream Big….Live Small.” Last year on Graduation Sunday I gave a message that encouraged all of you to dream BIG. I stated that we should have confidence in knowing that God can do “immeasurably more than we can even think or imagine” according to Ephesians. And I still hold fast to the notion that our God smiles when we have visions to do big things because He knows that you are giving Him an opportunity to shine. But, today I want to impress upon you the importance of the small things we do in life. As we extend small acts of self-giving love in the course of our normal daily routines, God’s love becomes real to those around us.
…Here is the good news. God’s love for you and God’s love for the larger world in need cannot be separated. We don’t have to add more overwhelming activity to what we already got going. Rather, our daily life—the commute to work and the play dates for our kids—are the exact places in which we express and experience God’s love for a world in need. The adventure of loving a world in need is—at its best—about giving Jesus, in us, access, through us, to the ones around us he already loves. It’s about doing small things with great love.
So what does this look like? Graduates, you are going to have rich opportunities to build Christ-centered relationships in the days to come. Rule Number One is to see, hear, know and respond to others—simply be aware. If you are going to college this fall, you can ask yourself these questions and if you are an adult in the working world these questions can also be modified to address you: Are there students on my campus that regularly dine alone? Have I gotten to know any of the international students? Do I know the names of those wonderful people who serve my meals? The people that God loves are with us if we just open our eyes to recognize and know them.
Even choosing classes can further equip you to serve in God’s kingdom. Look for opportunities that will open your eyes and educate you for mission. Even among required courses the possibilities are endless. A class in environmental studies can help you learn how our nation’s overconsumption affects the poor around the globe. Learn Spanish to give you tools to build bridges across cultural divides.
Frederick Beuchner once said: “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” Are you a kid person? Tutor a student at a local elementary school or help at Vacation Bible School. Are you a good cook? Gather three friends and serve a tasty meal to another friend that is having a difficult time. Do you build? Spend a Saturday afternoon working on your elderly neighbor’s broken fence and then take him out for coffee afterward and really get to know him.
Whatever you do, it all begins with one thing. God is not expecting you to save the world single-handedly. As you move with Jesus, your job is simply to get up in the morning, put your feet on the ground and ask “What do you have for me to do today?”
(To hear the message in its entirety, visit our St. Thomas website: stthomaspres .)
In the New Testament, Tabitha was known for her good works and acts of charity. Graduates, as you take this next step on your journey of life ask yourself this question: what will you be known for?:
Jordan Barker—“Generous Giver”
Anna Chambers—“Determined Achiever”
Jill Chambers—“Full of light and love”
Lilly Chambers—“Gentle and Kind Soul”
Lily DiLorenzo—“Passionate Spirit”
Brody Fulsher—“Courageous Leader”
Ben Kelenski—“Strong Warrior”
Ben Porter—“Patient and Faithful”
Whatever it is, I hope that it is measured by the small acts that you do with great love through our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.