In Holland, Michigan, where I live, each graduating high school senior has an open house where lots of people stop by, congratulate the graduate, bring a gift, talk to the family and friends and eat some very good food. For church members, if they happen on the same day we travel like a herd from one place to the next. It is just one of those things that happens this time of year.
One of the curious things about high school graduations is that, while we almost always call them “graduations” the ceremonies themselves are called “commencement ceremonies.” Graduation signals the end of something but commencement signals the beginning. That’s helpful because these kids are either going on to more schooling or going to work full time or into the armed services. But the point is that they’re not ending – they’re beginning.
We usually don’t have graduation events in church school – at least I’ve never seen one. It could be because Sunday School happens much less often than regular school so it might seem a bit of overkill to have a graduation ceremony for Sunday School but there is something else going on here too. While some people are done with school when they graduate from high school I don’t think anyone should graduate from Sunday School.
Too often many of us treat church education like drivers’ training – once you get your license you’re good to go and you never ever have to take one of those classes again. But church education should not be like that. So maybe what we need is a commencement ceremony for Sunday School at the same time as graduation from high school, a way to signal to high school seniors – and to college seniors and to senior citizens too and everyone in between - that we are not done learning about the Lord and His place in our lives. These ceremonies could be a way of saying to all of us that our task of learning about how we can better live for the Lord isn’t complete – it is only beginning.