Teachers, parents, family, friends - we made it. Congratulations! A month ago when this class asked me to be the graduation speaker, I instantly knew that I wanted to speak to both you and directly to them. I am here to both share this momentous occasion with you and to honor and challenge this beloved class of 2023.
Graduates, I met most of you during your 8th grade year when you would come into the Library and hang out. Ladies, I was your small group leader that year as well. Throughout the years I would listen to you decompress your day in Study Hall. Some days you would work diligently, and some days you would talk diligently. I’ve watched some of you play sports, participate in the performing arts, and had the privilege to be a part of your school events. It has been my honor to have watched you grow and mature into men and women of God. I have seen you passionately pursue the mind of Christ throughout your years at Central Christian. Today, I would like to encourage you to continue to passionately pursue Him and in so doing you will advance the Kingdom of God.
The reason I would like to give you this charge is because as I was thinking and praying about the things that I would be saying and sharing today, there was one word that kept coming to mind: Passion. Not only does this word define you as a group, but each of you is individually passionate. Passion is defined as a show of strong feelings and strong beliefs. You, CCS Graduating Class of 2023, are passionate. You show passion, you live passion. Your foundations in Christ are strong. Throughout your time at CCS, I have witnessed you become rooted and grounded in Christ because of your passionate natures.
Each of you as an individual, uniquely exhibits your passion. I can clearly think of one word that is upheld by your passionate nature. One word that stands out for each of you. One word that can be tied to your passion. Today, I challenge you to take your passion, and use it to pursue the mind of Christ and in so doing you will advance the Kingdom of God.
Savannah - Your word is Strong it means confident and determined, and is not easily influenced or worried by other people. You have displayed this for as long as I have known you. You are not easily influenced or worried by those around you, but you still care for those around you. We have had numerous conversations around the fact that you carry others on your shoulders, as well as their things. You are passionately strong. Use your strength to pursue Christ and advance the Kingdom of God.
Kenan - your word is Insightful, it means having or showing a deep understanding. You have been in tune to your class and friends, feelings and thoughts. You are aware of what is going on in their lives and always willing to be there for them, sometimes even before they knew they needed you. And you give great hugs! You are passionately insightful. Use your insight to pursue Christ and advance the Kingdom of God.
Cade - You are Bold, it means showing an ability to take risks; confident and courageous. You are confident and secure. You are never afraid to change or speak your mind. You find a way to lighten the mood in any situation, and you are never afraid to be the first to speak up. You are passionately bold. Use your boldness to pursue Christ and advance the Kingdom of God.
Elli-Kate - I know you do not want this word, but it is Compassionate, it means to show sympathy or concern for others. Compassion isn’t always soft and gentle, sometimes it means being forceful and fierce. You are so caring for those in your life. You are an amazing friend, and you are a force to be reckoned with. You are passionately compassionate. Use your compassion to pursue Christ and advance the Kingdom of God.
Seth. - You are Resolute, it means purposeful, determined and unwavering. You often get an idea in your head and watch out. Once you have found something you enjoy, you invest and devote your whole self into it. You care for your friends, and you have a big heart. You are truly sweet. You are passionately resolute. Use your resolution to pursue Christ and advance the Kingdom of God.
Jonny - You are Joyful, it means feeling, causing or expressing great happiness. Your smile is something that warms those around you, even if they don’t know you. Even when something bothers you, you still spread joy around you. You light up a room. You are passionately joyful. Use your joy to pursue Christ and advance the Kingdom of God.
Melinda - You are Tenacious, it means to keep a firm hold of something. You are a rock, solid, immobile. When I shared these words with Mrs. Tawzer she shared that you called yourself a fortress. You are a fortress. You are a safe haven and defense for those around you. You are solid in your beliefs, and you don’t back down. You are passionately tenacious. Use your tenacity to pursue Christ and advance the Kingdom of God.
Kaeden - You are Genuine, it means truly what something is, authentic. You are real. What you say is what you mean and there is never any question about it. You are kind to everyone, and treat others with love, respect and honor. You show great courage, and are a genuine young man.You are passionately genuine. Use your genuineness to pursue Christ and advance the Kingdom of God.
Kylie - You are Selfless, it means concerned with the needs and feelings of others. This definition describes you exactly. It is amazing how much you care for those around you. And not just your friends, you selflessly care for anyone and everyone who is a part of your life. You are passionately selfless. Use your selflessness to pursue Christ and advance the Kingdom of God.
Teilor - You are Vivacious, it means lively, animated and spirited. We have been blessed to have you join us as a senior this year. In this short amount of time you have brought a bubbly spirit to this class. I have observed the friendships that you have made and witnessed the impact on those around you. You are lively, animated and spirited. You are passionately vivacious. Use your vivacity to pursue Christ and advance the Kingdom of God.
Clay - When thinking of your word, the one image that kept coming to mind was the statue of the Thinker. Your word is Thoughtful, you think deeply and seriously. Everything you say has been thought about, whether it was before or after you have said it. Every conversation I have ever had with you has been a joy. You invest yourself in your words.You are passionately thoughtful. Use your thoughtfulness to pursue Christ and advance the Kingdom of God.
As you are closing one chapter and looking at the next, you are going to be learning and experiencing new things. Take these words as encouragement to continue to pursue Christ. A few chapels ago, Kylie lead the student body in prayer and talked about the potential that each of them had, but that goes for you as well. Your potential is before you. As you passionately devote yourselves to Christ you will inevitably advance the Kingdom of God.
As you move forward continue to be discerning:
Matthew 10:16 says “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be as wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” This verse is referencing how Jesus was sending out the 12. As you are moving from CCS, recall what you have learned during your years here. Take with you what you know. Scripture often refers to Satan as a serpent and in this particular passage it is challenging us to be as wise as serpents. Continue to recoginze evil, and choose good as you have been taught to do. Continue to stand strong and hold passionately to your beliefs.
Stand firm in your understanding of who God is. In John 6:66-69 it says “After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.””
You have learned and know that God is who he says he is. You know that He is the one true God and he offers eternal life. Continue to seek God. Remember that through your passionate pursuit of and devotion to Christ, there is an advancement of His Kingdom and He is glorified.
Finally, as you leave today walk with Thanksgiving. Colossians 2:6-7 says “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.” As you leave, remember your roots, you have stood firm in your beliefs and you have been taught how to walk with Him. Take with you all that you have learned throughout your time at CCS, enjoy the things that God has given. Continue to passionately pursue the mind of Christ. Continue to seek Him out. God has given you incredible gifts, and we can not wait to see what you are going to do. But we are certain that as you continue to passionately pursue Christ, He will use these gifts to advance His Kingdom.
You are incredible, you have made it! Congratulations Central Christian School class of 2023!