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A Prayer for a Freshman, and his Professors

Our oldest boy graduates college this month.

We’ll be making the trek to the west coast, and spend a few days perched upon the foot hills of the Santa Monica mountains, just above a beautiful vista of the Pacific Ocean. I won’t mind any of that.

He, meanwhile, may or may not be happy that I’ve been invited to deliver the homily at the baccalaureate service. I suppose we’ll have to ask him after the fact. But it provides a good occasion for me to share a prayer written for the start of his college career which I was privileged to share as a blessing for all his freshman class some four brief years ago.


Gracious and Merciful God,

For our sons and daughters we pray this day:

for courage, that they may face their fears, already-known or as yet-unknown, to do what is right and just and good; that the breadth of your truth and the depth of your love and the height of your joy might sweep them up into the bounty of a life given over to love of God and love of neighbor;

for your mercies, that their appetites for life and adventure may not yield the fruit of bondage, but the liberty of lives well ordered, fully alive and free;

for your Spirit to guide and convict them, that they may employ the privilege of study and work in this place as no means of indulgence, but a preparation for lives yielding mercy and justice and truth-telling.

For the faculty who shall guide our sons and daughters we pray this day:

for both patience and exacting standards of excellence, that our children may become what they could not, otherwise;

for both boldness and mercy, to speak truths boldly that our sons and daughters may yet need to face, and yet to speak with hospitality and humility;

for both sobriety of mind and lightness of spirit, convicted again at the start of a new academic year of the gravity of their calling—remembering that the scriptures teach that the teacher shall be judged with greater strictness—and yet with a lightness of heart, finding joy in their calling, ever reminded that we are all, parents and teachers and administrators, but co-laborers in the work of sowing and watering, from which God alone may give the increase.

For this institution of Christian higher education we pray:

for policies which befit the Kingdom of God, made manifest in a Lord who did not count his riches and status to be grasped tightly, but yielded all things to become a servant, even a servant killed upon a cross; 

for fidelity to the faith, and infidelity to corruptions of the faith;

for courage and faithfulness, that the beauty of this place and the abundant resources laid at its feet, may always be employed toward the work of rightly ordering your good Creation anew.

Oh gracious God, how good it is, say the scriptures,
   that we should be called sons and daughters of God;
and how good it is that you have given us sons and daughters,

   that we might thereby come to know how deep is your love for us; 
   for we know how deep is our love for our sons and daughters. 

May you bless them and keep them;
        may you make your face to shine upon them; and
        may you give them peace.

For the sake of Christ we pray, Amen.                

—LCC, 21 August 2014


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