Sunday, May 10, 2009
Pastor Jon has been preaching a series entitled "In Broad Daylight - Stories of Resurrection." This series has had Jon filling the shoes of a reporter who is out to find stories of life, hope, and resurrection. Today was senior Sunday. We honored our graduates and showed our support for them as they begin a new chapter in their lives. It was a special day for all our seniors, but it was extremely special for one in particular. His name is Joe. Joe has quite a story. Joe first started attending our church in 2000 as a child at VBS. He quickly made friends with some other kids at the church and became especially close to our children's pastor's son as well as the rest of the family. He came on and off for quite some time but at one point in his life he found himself getting involved with the wrong crowd and he started selling drugs. He also became involved in a gang. His life journey has been one that has been very bumpy. Last year, Joe spent some time in jail and has stated it was the worst nine days of his life. Joe was released and expressed a desire to get back on the right track with his life and schooling. He was set to graduate this May but because of all his troubles (he had also spent some time in Detention in previous years) he was very behind and was classified as a sophomore. Enter Lisa, our children's pastor. Lisa and her family have been very very close to Joe throughout his life. Lisa knew Joe's potential and refused to back down. Lisa spoke with the school and 2 people in our church about getting Joe back on track with his school. Joe worked very diligently and was able to get caught up in a 6 month time span so that he could graduate on time. Joe received word that he would graduate and receive his diploma but he was not going to be allowed to walk at graduation. Once again, enter Lisa. Lisa knew how important it was for Joe to be able to graduate and show his success after everything he has overcome. Pastor Jon brought Joe up during his sermon today and spent some time interviewing him and talking with him about his life. At the end of their talk, Jon explained that Lisa had contacted the school district and made arrangements to have school officials at our church today and Joe was going to have a graduation ceremony. The look on Joe's face was priceless. It was a look of shock, joy, and gratefulness. As Joe walked down to get his robe, the congregation erupted in applause and support for him. What followed was one of the most incredible things I have ever witnessed. Joe's family and Lisa's family (who have become like family to Joe) stood on the side of the stage to greet him and the 2 school officials, the 2 individuals who have been diligently working with Joe, and Pastor Jon all stood in the middle. Lisa and Joe took the stage and one official read his statement that made Joe an official graduate. He then read Joe's name and Joe proudly walked across that stage to receive his diploma. When he reached the end, the other school official lead him in moving his tassel from the right side to the left, signifying he was a graduate. Tears were streaming down my face as I was taking this sight in. Now you may be asking why I started this story by talking about Pastor Jon's sermon series. I know this is getting long, but stay with me for a minute. Joe's story is one of the most beautiful resurrection stories I have ever seen. You see, living in the light of the resurrection is all about living in hope and refusing to accept the darkness. Living in the resurrection is actively living in community with one another and bringing a slice of hope to everyday life. Joe's story is such a beautiful story of hope and resurrection. Not only did Joe have many many people who chose not to give up on him, Joe chose not to give up on himself. The Joe of a year ago is not the Joe of today. The story of living in light of the resurrection does not end with Joe. It is an ongoing story that we are invited to participate in. What are you waiting for?