The Fellowship of the King: Graduation Speech, 2005.
|February 18, 2008||Posted by Anthony under Blog, General, literary apologetics, Podcasts|
At long last I have managed to get the video of my graduation speech online in a workable format. I have them up on Youtube right now in two halves and on Apologeticsvideos.net in whole (shown below). This is a graduating class that I had for their 7th and 8th grade years, teaching religion, social studies, and PE. This is one of the few presentations that I have given from a written text. Below the video I have the full text.
The Fellowship of the King
(link to Youtube) Part 1:
(link to Youtube) Part 2:
To read the text click…
Greetings Ladies and Gentlemen, Graduates.
It is a great honor to be here today to deliver this message, but not nearly as much of an honor it is to have been part of the lives of this graduating class for the last few years. Thank you for the undeserved compliment.
I imagine that every graduation speaker has trouble trying to decide what to say. Some choose humor. Everyone who knows me knows that I am absolutely hilarious, and that my jokes were famous within a two classroom radius, so of course humor was one option for me. Another option would be to tell some old stories about some of the graduates. The Lord knows there are some good ones but perhaps this isn’t really the time and place for that.
After much reflection, I decided I would use this as an opportunity to speak seriously because time is short. So, I want you to suppose that this is the last day of class before summer and Mr. Horvath has just one last lesson.
So, over there is my guitar. I promise not to play it. Here is my coffee cup. And this, most of you will recall, is my space. Stay out of my space. And if anyone has seen my Hope rock, I’d greatly appreciate its safe return. I believe it was last seen your 8th grade year.
The last day of class begins the same way that the first day of class began. For those joining us for the first time today, we always began with a question. That question was, ‘Who are you?’ Who are you “I am a unique child of God, full of potential, and my life is hidden in Christ.” Woah! Amazing! Remembering a memory assignment after five years? Who would have thought that was possible! I mean, besides me. Alright, it’s in your head, now its time for it to get into your heart. That’s the way it works: nothing gets into your heart without making its way into and through the mind, first. Remember that.
I learned that statement myself from my freshmen religion teacher, and I can tell you from experience how profoundly beneficial it will be for you, as you soak up its meaning over time and live as though it were true.
You see, the main question that all humans ask is “Who am I?” and many humans do stupid and silly things- even destructive things- in their search for an answer. But you already have that answer so your search is over. And you have an answer not to one question, but to two questions. Not only is ‘Who are you?” answered, but the more important question, “WHOSE are you?” is answered. You are God’s. You are his child. You are unique. Right now you are on the brink of exploring your great potential.
If you understand that you are a child of God, you know right away that means you are part of a family. We obviously don’t deserve it, so it is a grand compliment to be adopted into his family. And this is no ordinary family. God is the King, therefore ours is a royal family. We are royalty. All that is his, is ours, and that includes this world.
But you will find that such a view is dismissed by modern society. Let me give you an example of what I mean. Not too long ago I took my three year old son out to the playground where I pushed him on a swing. And I pushed him some more. And I got tired and begged to be done and he told me “Push me more, Daddy, push me more” so I gave up and I pushed him some more. My son experienced joy. But when you go out into the world, even that simple fact will be attacked. My son was not experiencing joy, many say. My son’s brain was merely processing sensory data.
Vesicles filled with neurotransmitters pass electrical impulses from neuron to neuron as an interaction between striosomes and matrisomes mediated by tonically active neurons allow the amygdala to gather from the axon terminals the synthesis of sense and experience in the cerebral cortex. If it was left at that, fine. But they go further. No joy! No profound connection between father and son. No, a mere electro-chemical reaction, period. There is no meaning, there is only matter that doesn‘t matter.
Consequently, by extension- you are not part of God’s family. That whole idea is just some mere social convention that some ancient dude made up and we gullible folk bought, hook, line, and sinker. You think I exaggerate? You wait and see. It’s a battle out there, and your mind is on the front lines and you are on the verge of wading right into the thick of it.
It really comes down to two basic different ways of looking at our existence. Are you a child of God? That is, a prince, or a princess? Or are you just a traveler in a barren, meaningless universe? Those two basic perspectives on how you view your place in the world will define how you view everything else. Think of it like two roads.
To the left is a sprawling highway with millions of lanes of traffic. The flash of metal greets your eyes in every direction as cars hurtle toward the concrete horizon, disappearing into the distance. It’s fast. It’s easy. It looks like you are getting somewhere, and getting there quickly.
To the right is a road that hardly seems like a road at all. Its more like a path, and you have just enough room to get yourself past the trees and the vines, but you can’t quite see past the first bend to know what you are getting into.
At this point, you are probably thinking that the freeway is the way to go, and after one look at the hard path, that’s where most people do go. But I am telling you right now that the freeway just goes in big looping circles and you never do get anywhere, though you sometimes get ahead of your neighbor and sometimes he gets ahead of you. The most real action you’ll see is the occasional wreck. Going down the narrow, hard, path is obviously work, but let me tell you in one word what it means: adventure.
If you really want to fix it in your heads what that path looks like and what it means to travel on it I want you to think of the books by Tolkein that have recently been made into movies- The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Doesn’t that series resonate within us so deeply because we secretly desire to live in that world? Do you think that is an accident? Some do! I am telling you that you ARE living in that world, if you have eyes to see it. You need only take the path to the right. As you make your way down that narrow path you will have to cut down vines, move boulders, and cross rivers- hard work, true. But you will journey with elves, dwarfs, hobbits, and men.
I am inviting you to join, not the fellowship of the ring, but the fellowship of the King.
There will be exhilarating rapids. Cliffs stretching into the sky will dwarf you as you make your journey. Quiet nights under the stars, sitting around camp fires singing ancient melodies. The trees will bend to greet you, the boulders will rise to give you footing. Emerald forest skylines will dance with the crimson sky as the sun dips below the horizon, and you will be there to see it, sitting high up on a canyon ledge.
As you go, I charge you to rescue the lost. As you go, strengthen your fellow travelers, as you have been strengthened. As you go, free prisoners, as you yourself have been freed. This way there is beauty, meaning, love, and purpose. That way is just pavement stretching into pavement into pavement into pavement.
As God‘s unique creation, there will be unique quests that only you can do. Like Frodo with his burden of being the only one to carry the ring, there will be things that if you can’t do, they won’t be done. This is God’s kingdom, but as his royal children, it is our kingdom, too, and he has given us the dignity of sharing in responsibility for it. He bids us to help him reclaim it, for it is under relentless attack.
Indeed, I must tell you, though that way is filled with adventure and purpose, there is plenty of danger. And you may even find yourself called to stand shoulder to shoulder and fight whenever evil marches its armies into our land. And some of you may fall in the great battles that ensue. But do not fear: Aslan roams these woods, and he knows not only what it’s like to fall, but also to get back up. So stand, and if you fall, fall valiantly, for you know you will be raised. If you don’t know who Aslan is, just wait for those books to be made into a movie as well: but you already know him by another name.
Yes, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying it will be easy, only that it will be worth it. Sometimes you will feel all alone. Invisible, yet despised. Your only wish will be to belong. But in Christ’s kingdom, we are never alone. If you know you are a child of God, you know that appearances aside, our family is united. So I dare you to sing together. Pray together. Stand together. When it is right, FIGHT together. Join the fellowship of the King. Be surprised by joy.
Do you know what I am talking about? Do you understand? Do you feel the weight of glory in your very bones? I think you do. I think you always have. Otherwise, I don’t think we would have gotten along so well. You see in people and events more than other people do.
For example, you might find yourself in a long line at Wal-Mart. While the people ahead of you are getting crabby, you suddenly feel on your face the salty mists of an ancient ocean, bringing the tantalizing scent of a distant land that you intuitively know is home. You hear waves crashing on rocks while others only hear the sound of rustling paper bags. Something in you whispers and tells you that you are a stranger here. Then you blink, and you see the checkout line again. Take the path to the right and you will sail that ocean and you will find your homeland. Do you understand? Yes, I think you do.
I know that you are all itching to take over the world, indeed, though it was once ours to have, let me warn you, now the world aims to have YOU. The pressures and temptations to ride the fast lanes will only get worse. I’ve put the highway in a negative light, but you will hear the other side’s view very soon and it will be oh-so-persuasive. It will be the rare voice encouraging you to make for the hard and narrow path.
But that is what I am encouraging you to do today. Some look out and only see a graduating class. That is not what I see. I know that you are among the mighty. I know that God has created you with purpose and power. You are among the lights God sends against the darkness and I can feel the heat from your shining souls. In presenting my two choices, I am, in part, asking you to be strong and courageous and stand against the darkness. But I wouldn’t dare ask you to stand alone. You aren‘t the first ones or the only ones he has sent. Look around you. You are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses who love you, and care for you, and frankly, have been standing firm in the fellowship of the King for a long time, you just may not have realized it. Realize it now. Stand with them, and the world will tremble in your presence. He who has eyes, let him see it tremble so…
On the highway they have places called ‘rest stops.’ After your so-called ‘rest’ you get right back onto the highway. When you want to stop and eat, its usually only fast food. But go that way [point right], and you will have the Sabbath rest. Go that way [pointing right], and you will eat at the King’s table, surrounded by those like yourself- both those who have come before you and those who will come after- warriors of renown, telling tales of battle, of exploration, of joy, of hard fought love. The meal shall have no end, and at the head of it will be the mightiest adventurer of all, our Lord and father telling the greatest tale of all, the tale of the return of the king- in glory.
It may very well be that after today, many of us will never see each other again this side of Frodo’s ocean. This may be the day of our parting. But if you ever want to look for me- know this- I joined the fellowship of the King and I am making my way that way- towards eternal joy. Though our paths may not cross again anytime soon, my friends, my dear brothers and sisters, know this: I will meet you again, at home.