Thermocline of grace and amazement

graduation cap

I’m giving the invocation once again at the Broward College commencement next week and am excited about it. To have been invited back I must have done a good (enough) job the last time.

But here I sit today, in front of my laptop, wondering what to say. Of course I could use the same words I used last time. The President, Board, and Faculty heard them before, but for the graduates and their families my words (from last May) will be fresh and new.

I don’t as a rule recycle old sermons, however, so I’d better not start recycling old prayers either.

My next thought was to search one of my favorite worship blogs titled – with astonishing directness – re:Worship (you can click on it here or at the right side of this page). I found there the following prayer offered by Dr. Tom Cheatham at the Mississippi State University commencement in December 2006.

I must say, I like it. It’s fun, but also right on point. Now that I’ve read it, I’ll find it hard to not to copy it.

A Prayer for Graduates

God, what a great and joyous night this is. It’s graduation, marker of success in college, the commencement of a new era in life. Let’s get out of here!

God, what a lousy and sad night this is. It’s graduation, and we’ll never pass this way again; it feels like something is dying inside. Why do we have to leave?

What do we do now? And what are you going to do? We’re on this boundary between now and not yet, and we need help to sort out the feelings, the what if’s and the why not’s, the grief and the giddiness.

Lead us then into the mystery of this time and help us embrace it; teach us the power of this thin place where heaven and earth meet and in the passing of the old something new is being created. Make this night a thermocline of grace and amazement, where surface gives way to depth, and we know what you might do in and among us.

Go with us, God, when we leave this place. Go with us: goad us into tomorrow, guide us when we’re lost, grab us with your strong hand when we’re about to fall off the precipice of wrong choice, and grant us your peace so we may go confidently on this footsore and sacred journey of our lives.

Glory to you in heaven and on earth. Amen.

Doug’s note: Look, if you go to college, you have to expect to hear words like “thermocline,” don’t you? And then you go home afterward and look them up… ther·mo·cline [thur-muh-klahyn] noun: a layer of water in an ocean or certain lakes, where the temperature gradient is greater than that of the warmer layer above and the colder layer below. Now you know.

About Doug

I have been a writer ever since fifth grade when I won second prize in a “prose and poetry” contest. I am also a Presbyterian pastor, and for several years toward the end of my career I lived and worked in Zürich, Switzerland. I am now retired and live just north of Holland, Michigan, along the lake.


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