22 September 2023
Music has power, doesn’t it. It impacts us, don’t you think?
- When you hear Pharrell Williams “Happy” … you can’t help but cheer up a little
- What about Baha Men “Who let the dogs out” you can’t help but sing along can you?
- What about Let it Go… surely you can’t help but think oh no surely not again!
As I started to pray and reflect on what to say to you, our graduating class of 2023, I was listening to some music and I wondered what each of you would be if you were a genre of music? So I am doing it a little differently this year and leave you with an enduring hope of mine for you based on a comparison to music…
You see, when I listen to music it always leaves a mark, it influences and impacts, it has the power to change my mood, to speak truth, to influence my day. Music is powerful, and so are you, Class of 2023. You have had an impact upon all of us and it is our prayer that you continue to harness this potential and influence and make your mark on the world for good and for God.
Okay – so in alphabetical order…
Grunge music is a special kind of music for me Joe. It is the music I liked most growing up. It is raw, honest, true. It never seeks to please others for the sake of it or pretend to be any other than what it is. I knew it was good. It has special talents and the power to have an impact upon people. The impact, however, was up to the artist. Joe, I see you as an artist, as someone who is honest and true, someone who, ever since I arrived, has always sought to have a positive impact on their world.
Joe, the scriptures I pray for you as you go are these:
To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.
Can I pray for you?
Joe, my prayer for you is that as you continue to refine your melody as one that knows all the goodness and truth of God and that continues to bless people because of who you are. Joe, you are good and kind, you seek to bless and help and it is my prayer that this is your song and you keep singing it. I pray that as you continue to grow, you continue to help people to stop and think about the true things of this world and how they can make it a better place.
Did you know that on Apple Music there is a genre called fitness? When I saw this Josh, I couldn’t help but think of you. Not for obvious reasons of how much you like to work out, but because, Josh, when I think of you, I think of how much you, we, your parents and you and me, have overcome for you to be here today. We have got parent/teacher/student fit haven’t we. There were some moments in my office, right? But, and it is a big one, how well you have done. Josh the way you continued to grow, the way your parents constantly supported you, the way you haven’t given up, speaks of a phenomenal fitness of a different kind, the most important kind. You have grown, Josh, and are growing, into a strong young man with a passion for God and others. I pray this continues and enables you to love all that life has to give and you play a role in helping others to do the same. But there are many steps that you still have to climb, many workouts you still have left to do. There is a line in this iconic song, it says, ‘Don’t lose your grip on the dreams of the past, You must fight just to keep them alive.’
For you Josh, the scriptures I pray as you go are these: 1 Corinthians 9:24 – 27:
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
Josh, I pray you run in such a way as to get the prize, that you go into strict training to get a crown that will last forever. I pray that you run with intention and fight with purpose so that after you have preached to others, you will qualify for the prize. I pray that you always know that God loves you, I pray that you know deeply God’s grace. I pray that you live in hope and His light and life forever.
So Kit, the genre of techno is apparently defined by its ability to have a definitive baseline, this consistent pattern that goes through the whole song. The goal with techno is that even though there are different sounds or instruments introduced at different times, even though there are pace and volume changes, or beat and tempo changes, techno maintains a steady baseline rhythm – all the time. Techno is also renowned for creating its own subculture, paving its own way. I have no doubt that you, not unlike techno, have this baseline of truth, hope and understanding of purpose. You are unique and powerful, consistent, even if we don’t always see it on the outside, I believe this to be true. I have always seen a great strength and potential in you Kit, from way back. I hope that you continue to listen to this God-given baseline and refine your own; to be so in tune that it becomes your strength, a godly cornerstone if you will, that allows you to continue to pump out those block rockin’ beats and rock steady as life happens all around you.
Kit, the scripture I pray for you as you go is Psalms 20:4
May he give you the desire of your heart
and make all your plans succeed.
I pray for you, Kit, that you grow in your understanding of what God has placed in your heart and that you trust him, not yourself or those things or people around, Him. I pray that you follow him and his way only and that you know in the core of who you are that as you do, as you follow Him, He will make your path straight, He will bless your coming and going, He will provide for all you need.
The genre of classical music fascinates me. There is always so much more to the songs. Did you know that this song, and this is in very brief detail, was composed by a guy called Richard Wagner in the 1800s and he had a dream to bring together all the different versions and purposes of art via theatre so that the individual expressions of art could all serve the common purpose of art. (Hang in there with me, I know this is not what you expected). This song comes from Wagner’s opera, The Four Rings, and this particular song is one of victory where the main guys get to meet their Maker, their God. All in this one song, I know! And I know you love the arts and English metaphors 😉
Connor, I think this music is the perfect metaphor for you. We have had the privilege of journeying with you for a very long time and I have grown to know that there is a lot that goes on under the surface, there is a complexity that is eloquent and strong, inspiring and caring, fearful at times, but very, very hopeful. We just have to listen carefully to understand. Connor, there is so much depth and purpose and strength in you, I hope that each day you see this and know this like we do.
Connor, the scripture I pray as you go are these:
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Let’s pray? Connor, I pray that not only do you know God has made you fearfully and wonderfully this way for His purposes, but that those people God brings around you can lean in, listen closely and see the depth and complexity, strength and purpose, hope and love that makes you the truly valuable human that you are. I pray that your eyes are opened to the wonderful impact you have had and will have on your world. Thank you, God, for the quiet influence Connor has had at RCC. Bless him as he goes in confidence and strength in you and in the way you made him.
Last but not least – This song is actually defined as Waltz music. Waltz music is designed for people to dance to, dance in a way that expresses who they are, dance in a way that provides foundations of balance and control, dance in such a way that enables others to dance their own dance. This particular waltz song is written and performed by a 15-year-old girl who is singing about overcoming the ups and downs of life by being who we are made to be so we can say, Voila, or here we are.
Mikaela, you have always lived in such a way that has not only shared honestly who you are but has allowed others to live as they are. You have always been willing to lead, share, encourage, go the extra mile, all so others can live and dance, the way God has made them to do. What a gift, and what a blessing for us as a school community to have shared in. So, Voila, here you are. Well done.
For you the scriptures I pray as you go is Matthew 5:14
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Mikaela, I pray that you will always draw on God’s strength to do all that he calls you to do. I pray that you do not worry as you approach all the new adventures he has for you, but always trust that he will not only make your path straight and he will give you the strength to walk the path he lays out for you. I pray that you take on his yoke and his burden because they are easy and light and as you do this you can be His light on the hill, His candle in a dark room.
Graduating Class of 2023. You made it, you did it, now don’t stop, or as Timberlake would say, you’ve got sunshine in your pocket so … just imagine, and … don’t stop dancing…