This is one of my favorite times in the church not directly associated with the church calendar. High School and College graduations mark a rite of passage for many of our youth and young adults and the celebration of many years of hard work and perseverance. Laurel Heights presents each graduating High School Senior with a college level study Bible and continues to support them with care packages around Christmas for as long as they are in school. Each student continues to be in our prayers and many receive cards and notes of encouragement from their friends and church family.

Another way we honor them is to financially encourage them as they continue their education. Families and individuals have contributed to endow scholarships to encourage further education. There are many goals and wishes donors have chosen to support or reward, but all encourage some form of future education. Thoughtful planned gifts from Elizabeth Grace Bailey (1998), Al and Dorothy Hein (1994), John McGee (2002), William Richards, Jr. (2004), Everette H. Timmons (1989), Mr. and Mrs. John D. Wheeler (1952) and probably the most well-known, Mary Blackford (1981) have awarded over $5,000 to seven students of which four graduated from High School this year. The oldest known gift by Mr. Wheeler of $1,200, adjusted for inflation, was roughly equal to the $5,000 awarded this year. Sixty years of giving at $5,000 would mean you have invested an adjusted amount equal to over $300,000 in the advanced education of your children.

This year’s graduating seniors are: Andrew Edeler, Murphy Grossett, Riley Lanoux, David Shelden and Lucian Smith. Some will be moving for the first time and some will move far away. They will be making decisions and harvesting the fruit of their choices concerning opportunities they have never even imagined. They will make a few mistakes but most of their decisions will be good ones. They will learn the value of eating right, getting plenty of rest and keeping their room clean in a much richer way than we could have taught them growing up and discover that we were not as crazy as they thought. However, what we taught them that will make the biggest difference tomorrow and for the rest of their lives are things like, how to be kind to others, that they have incredible value regardless of what others might say and that they are loved. Those are lessons that will probably not be reinforced over the next few years and could even be challenged.

The deepest lessons are not the ones we are told but the ones we observe and experience in a real and meaningful way. The personal experiences we have outweigh the books we read, the lectures we attend or exams we take. Watching how the people we love and respect treat each other is the best lab we can attend. When we raise our children in the church we are intentionally exposing them to people who have learned to love one another, believe that each of us have incredible gifts to offer to the greater body and that God loves them in spite of what others may think or say. Any one of these small scholarships offered by the church will probably not make the deciding difference if a person can attend school or not. The greater gift being granted is that each student will know that as long ago as 1952, someone cared about their education. Someone thought enough and had faith enough in the future to believe in, love and see the value in someone they would never meet in this world. They cared enough to make a planned gift and then attach their name and reputation to it. They signed it with love. These were not acts of pity, but gifts of faith: faith in God, faith in one another, faith in tomorrow. Gifts to children yet to be born.

See you Sunday,