Wednesday, 22 October 2014

King's Valedictory Sermon: Glimpses of hope.

Throughout our lives we all reach significant milestones, times of transition and of change.  These can be tumultuous and confronting times as much as the may be filled with excitement and hope.

Tonight, those of you who are coming to the end of your time at Kings are here to celebrate the end of a journey and the beginning of a new one.  You stand on the cusp, on the edge, on the fringe of something new:  you are about to break out of the walls of Kings and into another phase of your life.

You may have a mix of emotions: relief, excitement, fear, anxiety hope, anticipation – what comes next?

This evening I chose to have a story read from the Bible in which we find another man standing on the cusp of a new journey: Moses.

He was the leader of his people and he was at yet another turning point in his journey leading God’s people out of Egypt and towards the Promised Land.  In the midst of his journey and his consternation about this new transition Moses seeks reassurance – he wants to know that he is not about to go it alone.  He wants a sign to help him to continue to hope.

As the story unfolds we are told God allows Moses to get a glimpse of God’s glory – he will see God’s back.  For Moses this glimpse of God’s form is a reassurance that God’s presence will remain with him: in seeing God’s back Moses glimpses hope!

There are two aspects of this story which I feel are pertinent for those of you are celebrating tonight.

First: that whatever hopes you may have there are hopes that transcend our individual lives and call us to a bigger vision of what it means to human. And second: the reassurance that, as you step out from this place, you do not go alone. 

So, let us begin with hope.

As you stand on the cusp of this new journey you may have many individual hopes.  For those of you continuing your studies you may be hoping to find a good house or apartment to share with some friends in 2015; you may be hoping that your new house mates are good cooks; you may be hoping that you can get a place close enough to Uni for convenience and so on.  And for those of you who may be finishing Uni this year hoping for a job; hoping to find somewhere suitable to live; hoping that the right doors open up for you.

There is nothing wrong with any of these individual hopes per se but as we consider the story of Moses he had bigger and broader hopes shaped by the experience of his people: the world is bigger than any of you as individuals.

It is often easy when you live in an environment like Kings to become a bit detached from the world at large so I would want to encourage you to broaden your vision of hope, especially given that over time many of you will become leaders in your workplaces and communities.

As we celebrate here the world and its problems go on: thousands of people are dying of Ebola; war and conflict continues in the middle east; millions of refugees are living in camps on the borders of Syria and Iraq; whilst other asylum seekers sit in offshore processing centres run by Australia; millions of people are living as slaves around the globe; the indigenous people of Australia are seeking recognition in our constitution; the climate is continuing to change; and, the list goes on.

Moses hope was not simply about what he wanted for himself.  Moses concern was for his people, for their well being and for their fullness of life.  

We live in a time of unprecedented connection as humanity, more and more we hear about our common future and our common bond –the world has become incredible small, incredibly quickly. 

Hoping for the best in life for me alone is not enough because all of our lives are bound together.  As someone who holds a faith the hope that I have is for a better a world, a hope that seems somehow utopian and naive.  As a Christian I cling to a hope in something I cannot see becoming a reality – a hope grounded in God’s promises of a better future for all peoples: peace and justice for all peoples!

Whether you believe in God or not this night I would want you to expand the vision of hope that you have a vision grounded in the notion of the common good and in concern for others not just yourself.  This is a hope that may seem unattainable and too large for our individual minds or lives to contain but a hope which might shape your life in directions other than simply hoping for a bigger house and a better a car.

Secondly, as you go from Kings I would want to encourage you with the notion that you are not going it alone.  The conviction of the Christian faith is that through God becoming one of us in Jesus we can be reassured that there is nowhere that we can go that God has not been.  God’s presence fills the whole creation and binds us to one another and to God.

Whilst this is an expression of my faith that God will be with all of you, whether you believe in God or not, for those of you who may have a different view of life and God I would encourage you to think about the bonds of friendship that you have forged here at Kings.  For some you these will be life-long friendships and the broader community of Kings and of the Church which supports your life here will go with you.

The community of Old Collegians can and will be a support for you and in my opinion an expression of God’s presence with you on your journey.

You are at a transition point, a turning point: you stand at the edge: What comes next? Life goes on.  But life is not lived alone it is not a solo event.  God’s presence and the presence of this community goes with you and glimpsing a hope that transcends your personal desires you are invited to live not simply asking what’s in it for me but what can I do to be part of this global community to forged the common good for all humanity and the whole creation.

I pray that you will become more aware that you are not alone, God and this community goes with you.  More than that, I pray that you will capture something of that broader hope and vision of life so that as you offer your life into the world you may be agents of that broader hope in the world.  

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