Dear Family & Friends,
Stephen & I are blessed with two children, two grandchildren [and one on the way], two god-children, nieces and nephews, and children of our friends. This is the season not only for congratulations and celebrations but also for changes and challenges: graduations, baccalaureates, commencements, parties, and vacations will soon segue into packing up for college, traveling, settling into a new city, making new friends, finding a new church, etc. This letter is my encouragement to all the young people whom I love, who are going through this transition:
It is an honor for me to write to you a letter of encouragement. I extend to you a hearty “Well Done!” and I wish you joy and every success, in your future education and vocation. I also desire to impart some truth and wisdom that will [hopefully] serve you, long after the excitement of the celebration is over.
During this season of transition, it is possible that you will move away from your family, friends, church home, and youth group. Who will you choose to be? What will be your character, virtue, and strength? Will you decide to love the Triune God with “ALL of your heart, soul, mind, and strength?” What or Who will be your constant and guiding North Star?
When you are parted from all that is familiar, you will need more than fond, warm, positive memories. You will need to choose and establish community, based upon the rock-solid foundation of creed. In fact, you will flourish only when you find “community and creed.”
The ancient and historic creeds of the church are most simply stated as The Mystery of Faith:
Christ has died.
Christ is risen.
Christ will come again.
These three historical acts [the Death/Atonement, Resurrection, and Second Coming] are the “irreducible minimum” central truths of Christianity. St. Thomas said, “Truth is the conformity of the mind to reality.” This historic truth is the reality of the Triune God invading space and time, in the grand redemptive narrative. If these historical acts are true, then Christianity is true. Regardless of what you experience in life, the transcendent truth of The Mystery of Faith is the unmovable anchor of Christianity.
Christianity is true because it represents reality, regardless of our “experience.” As challenges and changes, trials and tribulations, disappointments, and losses occur in your life, the one constant that remains is the truth of Christianity. This truth is the North Star, regardless of your own subjective and personal experience.
The New Testament assures us that “He who did not spare his own son, but delivered him up for us all, how will he not, with him, freely give us all things?” [Romans 8.32.]
The Cross of Christ is the assurance, the proof of the love of the Holy Triune God.
How are we to respond to this sacrificial love?
The New Testament instructs us: “You are not your own; you have been bought with a price. Therefore, glorify God in your body.” [1 Corinthians 6.19-20]
The love of Christ compels us to live a life of costly discipleship, honoring and obeying the Holy Triune God.
As you enter adulthood, I pray that you will live as one who understands what true freedom is: “The capacity to do none other than obey God.”
If a person does not become what he understands, he does not really understand it. [Soren Kierkegaard, 1813-1855]. Know what your believe and live what you believe, in thought, words, and action. Become a person of integrity.
This is a bittersweet time for you, as you say “goodbye” to your high school years and enter your college/university years. If you have been blessed with a great family, good friends, a solid church, and a supportive youth group, then you are indeed fortunate.
However, when the memories of those years fade and when the transformed life becomes difficult, pick up this letter and read it again.
Remember the rock upon which your faith is founded: the Cross of Christ.
Remember the truth of the sacrifice of Christ.
Remember the truth that “you are not your own; you have been bought with a price:” Therein is found true wisdom and freedom.
From the Book of Common Prayer:
A Prayer for Young Persons:
God our Father, you see your children growing up in an unsteady and confusing world: Show them that your ways give more life than the ways of the world, and that following you is better than chasing after selfish goals. Help them to take failure, not as a measure of their worth, but as a chance for a new start. Give them strength to hold their faith in you, and to keep alive their joy in your creation; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
For Schools and Colleges:
O Eternal God, bless all schools, colleges, and universities [and especially ___________], that they may be lively centers for sound learning, new discovery, and the pursuit of wisdom; and grant that those who teach and those who learn may find you to be the source of all truth, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
O God, our heavenly Father, whose glory fills the whole creation, and whose presence, we find wherever we go: Preserve those who travel [in particular, __________] surround them with your loving care; protect them from every danger; and bring them in safety to their journey’s end; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Assist us mercifully, O Lord, in these our supplications and prayers, and dispose the way of thy servants towards the attainment of everlasting salvation; that, among all the changes and chances of this mortal life, they may ever be defended by thy gracious and ready help; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Margot Blair Payne, May 2011 and Revised January 2013.