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Sermon and Worship Resources
Graduation / Baccalaureate Service
with Sermon, Song suggestions, prayers & Litany
Sermon and Worship Resources

Texts & Discussion:

John 14:27
1 Timothy 4:12
Romans 8:38-39
Joshua 1:7-9
Micah 6:8
Isaiah 40:31
Isaiah 43:1-2


 

Hymns/Songs:
This Is A Day of New Beginnings
Where You Lead Me
In Christ Alone
Christ Beside Me
Here I Am, Lord
Contemporary songs:
Blessed Be Your Name (Redman)
Oceans (Hillsong)
A Place in this World (Smith)
Hand that Holds the World (Starfield)

 

Opening Prayer/Invocation
by Frank Schaefer

All loving, ever gracious God,
we open our hearts to your presence today
as we celebrate a milestone in the life of our graduates.
We give you thanks for all the things
you put in place that brought us to this moment...
for the wisdom, insight and strength you provided
for the facilities and resources of higher learning
for the teachers, tutors and support staff
for study spaces, the encouragement by friends and family.
Grant strength and good cheer to all our graduates
as they embark on a new part of their journey.
In the Name of our Lord, who walks the journey with us.
Amen.


Sermon / Message:

Vaya con Dios
Romans 8:38-39, Isaiah 43:1-2
by Rev. Frank Schaefer
(watch the delivery of this sermon on YouTube)


I love going on hikes. When you go on hikes, occasionally you’ll find a paths that goes off the main trail. I don’t know why, but since I was a little kid, I have always been intrigued by these paths. Even to this day, I want to follow every single one of them. These paths, were often not designed, they were not constructed, they were made as people walked through the wilderness, and as more and more feet tread upon them, the vegetation receded and they became foot paths. I always figured, it this many people took this turn off the beaten track, there must be a pot of gold at the end. Oftentimes they do lead to amazing places, sometimes they are shortcuts to a destination; but sometimes these paths seem to lead nowhere, they suddenly stop. And then we have to backtrack (don’t you hate backtracking?). So, taking those paths means taking a risk.

So, here we are on this Sunday on which we celebrate graduation. And as a graduate you must feel relief and a sense of accomplishment. But you probably also feel a bit nervous, because graduation also means that you will have to make decisions about your future and, most likely, you will have to leave the road you’ve been walking on for some time, and embark on a new path.

The thing is, we are comfortable with the path we’ve been walking on and we just don’t know with certainty where any new path will lead us. And that makes us nervous, even anxious at times. Where will this new path take us? Will it be what we’re hoping to find? Or will it be a dead end and we’ll have to backtrack? Will I be alright? Will I find my purpose in life? And these thoughts, this fear, is all too human, isn’t it? How can we deal with this anxiety as we start walking on a path?

No doubt, you will have heard the Starwars farewell: “May the force be with you!” Today, I am not saying that to you; instead, I am saying: The Force will be with you.” God promised to walk with us on whichever paths we choose, and I got two Scripture verses to that effect.

Read Romans 8:38-39:
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Here the apostle Paul is saying: God’s love is unconditional. Nothing and nobody can separate us from God’s love. Not even our mistakes, not even if we mess up big time; we are and will remain God’s beloved children--every single one of us.

Read Isaiah 43:1-2:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.”
These verses from the Hebrew Scriptures are equally as encouraging on our journey. No matter where our feet tread, God will be there. I have experienced a couple of physical rescues that I attribute to God. But, I mostly take this passage metaphysically—even death loses its sting knowing that God will carry us through and beyond all the floods and firestorms this life can throw at us. God will be there and save me, whether in this life or beyond.

So, today, I am saying to you graduates and to all who leave for the summer to pursue some new and exciting paths: “Vaya Con Dios.” I love this Spanish farewell. Walk with God. Because God already made it clear in the promises we read that God will walk with us. Nothing can separate us from the love or the presence of God. No event, no person, nothing, Not even mistakes we make, will change that. God is with us. Period.

Vaya con Dios my friends. Be mindful of God’s presence and never forget that God is walking right beside you. And that’s how we overcome all fears. That’s why we can walk boldly where we have not walked before. We can walk with confidence, heads held up high, because we know that God has promised to be with us, to never leave us nor forsake us. Vaya con Dios. Amen.
 

Closing Prayer:
by St. Patrick

Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.”
Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
 

 
Baccalaureate Litany
from the UM Book of Worship

Leader: Today is a gift from God. Gathered on the edge of a milestone, we offer to God what we have to give- ourselves and the stirrings of our hearts and minds. Let us bless God.

All: Blessed be God!

Graduates: Strange, surreal, like a high peak where we can look back over the way we've come and ahead to where we have not yet walked. Exciting! Scary! We're ready!

All: Blessed be God!


Parents and family members: Where did the time go? Suddenly babies have become young women and men, explorers and natives in a world in which we are aliens.

All: Blessed be God!


Faculty: We did our job- coaching, challenging, encouraging, risking our passion in hope that they would not only turn the tassel, but believe in themselves as gifted, loveable people who are contributors in a world that needs them.

All: Blessed be God!


Religious leaders and members: Tradition and vision mean so much to us: God, love, justice, faith, hope, kindness, the Tem Commandments, the Great Commandments, and the five pillars. With you, we have continued to learn the way of peace and life. May the holy and divine Life of the world be a pathway for you as you commence your journey and find your way.

All: Blessed be God! How good it is, Great Spirit, to share this moment on tiptoes: grateful, alive, feeling whole and entering into the rest of our lives. Thank you for this milestone. Blessed be God!