Good Morning Pioneer Baptist!
I’ve been through a bunch of them, but I never knew what they were! They called them Commencement Exercises, but I never bothered to figure it all out, thinking “Hey, I made it here, why do I have to worry about what the title means.” Oh, sure, I had a rough idea, but in my mind (and I dare say in the minds of the other grads) we were wrapping things up, but I did have a notion that for some reason that’s not what the term meant. I now know that synonyms for the word include beginning, start, origination, instigation, and initiation. My fine friend Dictionary.com says a commencement is 1) an act or instance of commencing; beginning: 2) the commencement of hostilities. 3) the ceremony of conferring degrees or granting diplomas at the end of the academic year. 4) the day on which this ceremony takes place. All good. Now it makes sense to me.
So while I was thrilled that it was all ending, the commencement speaker was trying to tell me that it was just beginning. I should have known that the joyous occasion was actually a time for mourning when, at my graduation from The University of Maine at Machias (I was born in that town. Now that’s a real commencement!) the President, Dr. Lincoln Sennett, said to me, “Now you’ve got to go to work, Jerry.” What a stinking letdown! And I thought life was just a series of sporting events with people in the stands cheering me on! What an awakening!
On June 9, 1974, forty-six very quick years ago today, I deposited my hymnal in the pew at the Bangor Baptist Church and walked a few steps to the altar. Buddy had just finished preaching the evening service, and Chet Littlefield took me down the Romans Road as I prayed and received the LORD Jesus Christ as my own personal Saviour. We talk about coming to the end of “ourselves” to accept Jesus Christ, and yes, that day for each of us does mark an ending of serving self and being deceived by Lucifer, but like our commencement days, it’s as much of a beginning as it is an ending. It really is a “commencement” and this is a beginning without an ending!
The definitions of my fine friend as given above? Here they are, by the numbers. 1) We have begun a brand new life with Christ, 2) It is the commencement of our hostilities with the world, the flesh, and the Devil, 3) It is quite a ceremony, with joy in the presence of the angels of God when we are received into the family of God as His child, 4) It is a very special Day when this takes place, as I am here noting. It is the greatest Commencement Ceremony possible, for the time being.
What do I mean, “For the time being?” Well, both sides of that Coin of Commencement yet await us. It’s called death, and that’s another Commencement Exercise. Yes, it is an ending, a completion, and an accomplishment, but for the Christian, it is definitely the beginning! It is the beginning of eternity with all of the Saved and with our blessed Redeemer, Jesus Christ and the Trinitarian Godhead! We’ve graduated! We’ll get the rewards of our efforts, we’ll have a brand new body, and all of the cares, strifes, heartaches, and trials will be forever gone!
Happy Commencement day to me and to all of you, and if you don’t feel included in this, please don’t feel that way. Ask Christ to save you! It’s a prayer He always answers in the affirmative, and then you can walk that Commencement Walk with God!
Love and Prayers to all,