Below is a sermon I will be giving to graduating Seniors at the Academy of the New Church in Bryn Athyn.
Senior Blessing Service 2011
Welcome to the Senior Blessing Service. Our goal here is to welcome you to the adult life of the church. That may sound very lofty. It is not. Welcoming you to the adult life of the church is welcoming you to reality.
Of course there are other realities – many, many of which are currently up for question. You are entering a world very different from the realities of several decades ago. At that point, the path was clear – college, career, pension, retirement, Florida. For many of the women, that would include a long time at home with children.
The reality is different. People are less satisfied with their work – lowest satisfaction every measured according to one survey, accompanied by the highest stress level every measured for incoming freshmen. Record stress going into college. Record job dissatisfaction at work. Add in global warming, population explosion, wars in the Middle East – you are going to get dinged somewhere along the line. What is a graduating senior to do?
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6: 19-21)
You might then say – ‘But wait, that is not “real.” Jobs, checking accounts, college – those are “real.” Church is nice and all but …’
And you can choose that – Mammon that is real, and a church that is “nice but….” As the New Church so beautifully notes, you are free. And that freedom extends the whole way to what is “real.” You will create your own reality. Just please do so carefully. You cannot serve God and Mammon.
What is a “mammon” reality? It is the belief that your worth is directly tied to your finances, you job, and your stuff – a false god. I can say absolutely, in the end, all those will disappoint. They cannot give you happiness. They can give you the means to do incredible things for your family and others in this world but that is a different proposition. In and of themselves, money, careers, and possessions will disappoint. (Layoffs)
And that is wonderful news! Because they WILL disappoint – not might, not probably, but will. The call is to find that rock on which to build our house. Welcome to the God reality.
God’s reality is one that acknowledges that we need to make a living etc… but that making a living is far different than actual living. Actual living is serving – putting our lives into God’s hands, seeking His will, finding where He is at work in the world and seeking to fill that need. Money, career, and possessions then assume their rightful place as of secondary concern/ as means to useful service.
The faster your generation can get to that God place the better for all of us I deeply believe.
Dig to the Purpose. I speak here not of “purpose” in a light way but purpose in its deepest sense. You need to answer that question – What is your purpose? You will employ that answer in everything you do and we spend precious little time considering its import. “Every love has a purpose.” (TCR) You are a form of love. Trust me, you have a purpose. Find it, find it, find it. (Pause of 30 seconds – light 3 candles)
Finding that purpose, digging into it, entering it not as a consumer but as a producer – that is entering the life of the church. We often confuse church with buildings, and sacraments, and statements of belief. But church is where the Lord is known. It is where deep compassion and wise love are exercised in service to higher purposes. Buildings, sacraments, beliefs are there to support those processes. They are not the goal though.
I want to close by sharing an example of the importance of entering into your life’s work, into the God reality, into the adult life of the church. Several years ago I read an article about a retiring Hall of Fame Football Player. The question posed to him was “What do you want inscribed on your tombstone ?” He said something to the effect of “He spoke to the meaning of God for his generation.” Now there is purpose! I think you are a bunch of future Hall of Famers. You have been blessed with a unique education and a deeply transformative Christian faith. Speak to the meaning of God for your generation. Don’t just speak it with words. Speak it with your whole being – with everything you are.
The Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA’s survey, “The American Freshman: National Norms Fall 2010
 Mammon: False god of riches and avarise