May 17, 2019  |  Pastor Rob Fuquay

It's not very often I get to wish my wife, Susan, a happy birthday in my Friday email! Susan turns...well, maybe just wish her a happy birthday today!

We have had quite a bit of celebrating lately. Someone else in our family had a birthday yesterday. Then last weekend our youngest daughter Anna graduated from Purdue with a Biomedical Engineering degree. She will start work later this summer at AbbVie in Waukegan, IL, north of Chicago.

Of course, mixed in amongst these events have been some sad celebrations. I know that sounds like an oxymoron, but a funeral is a celebration of life service and we've had several big funerals in the past week. Last Friday we celebrated the lives of Bill Salin and Ed Cockerill. This past Wednesday we celebrated the life of Senator Richard Lugar.

I find an interesting connection between graduations and celebrations of life. They are both commencements. To commence, of course, means to begin. Graduations seem more like a celebration after crossing a finish line, but they are called commencement ceremonies, because the earned degree is just a lead-up to the new chapter of life that is beginning. I was somewhat misty at Anna's graduation thinking about all of her commencements. Her first was when she finished preschool. The teacher rolled up little diplomas and had a ceremony in a classroom at the church. When Anna received hers I shouted, "You da woman!" She scowled at me and said last week she was cringing as she walked across the stage at Purdue waiting to hear me do the same thing again! There were quite a few commencements between those two.

Funerals are similar. We are not just celebrating a past but recognizing that for the person of faith, life has just begun. The final commencement ahead for all of us is when we go to our heavenly home one day. Life is about preparing the ultimate commencement.

Multiple times in the New Testament we are encouraged to grow in Christ, much like a student who studies. Peter specifically said to grow in "grace and knowledge." Along with learning the right information is to experience transformation. We must grow to become more like Christ. Let me offer these examples of what I believe it means to become Christ-like:

  • Tolerant
  • Sensitive to sin
  • Compassionate
  • Humble
  • Willing to serve when/where needed
  • Open-minded
  • Teachable
  • Generous
  • Value kingdom of God above all other "kingdoms"
What would you add? What are you doing to stay in school?