Decorations, Celebrations & Graduations

Holidays can be celebrated in so many different ways. Graduations, too! I've heard of some regions of the country where parties last all day long and include picnics, fishing, boating and all kinds of activities. Other locales celebrate with Open Houses that last for hours and hours. Those who are invited must figure out their Graduation Open House Schedule carefully so that they can enjoy as many celebrations as possible! Still others enjoy simple affairs with a few close friends and family members. Whether you are invited to one party every few years, multiple parties in a year or no invitations arrive in the mail, a graduation dilemma will eventually surface. 

Should the pastor and his wife give a gift to every high school graduate in the church family?

Depending on the size of the church, or the age of the congregation, the number of graduates could include dozens of students or it could be non-existent. Assuming you have graduates in your church family and you want to share a gift with some or all of them, how do you make that distinction? How much do you spend? If you have multiple pastors on staff, do you partner together and buy a group gift? There's so much to be considered.

I’d like to tell you that I have the perfect answer, but I don’t.

I will tell you that we try to keep things simple – and under $10. I shop for bargains throughout the year which allows the value of the gift to be more than $10! That is always a blessing, but I have to be careful. I don’t want the graduates one year to get a really nice gift only to have one of their siblings receive a much more modest gift the following year. 

Since we live within a short drive to the beach, we’ve often given gifts of beach towels or folding chairs. Bags of candy, sunflower seeds and beef jerky were the gift of choice one year when we had a ton of young men graduating. A different year we only had a few gals graduating, and I was excited to find fun picture frames for each of them. I hit a really good clearance sale at Pier One - but don’t tell them that!

So, do we give gifts to every graduate? 

Nope. However, the church does. Each graduate receives a Bible from the church which takes a bit of pressure off of us, as representatives of the church. Personally, we have chosen to give gifts only to those students who send us a graduation announcement or an invitation to a party. 

But, what if the budget doesn’t allow for gifting? Don't let that discourage you. A note with a fun memory, Scripture verse or personal words of encouragement are just as valuable. Just this year, I reminded two of our graduates that they were one of the few that I “knew” before they entered the world. Each one gave me a silly, half-embarrassed grin, but I think they both were pleased to know that we had loved them and cared about them from the very beginning. 

What a privilege it is to watch these young people grow up before our eyes. We need to make sure we let them know how much they mean to us - as well as assuring them that we’ll be continuing to pray for them in the days ahead. Speaking words of congratulations and hope into these graduates' lives is truly an honor that we should not take for granted - whether the well wishes are accompanied with a gift or not!

And, if you haven't taken the time yet to pray for those special graduates in your life, join me in lifting them up in prayer right now.

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank you for the lives of the young people who are graduating this year and are entering into a new adventure in life. Thank you for the privilege that we have had to watch them grow intellectually, emotionally and spiritually. Infuse in them a sense of hopeful anticipation as they journey forward in life. We ask that your hand of protection and guidance be an ever present force in their lives. Guard their hearts that they will not become hardened by the world’s influence. Continue to hold them in the palm of your hand and call them to your ways and will. Give them strength to persevere and face the challenges that the coming year will present them. Bring Godly people into their lives – whether a roommate, a professor, a co-worker, friend or teammate. Nudge them, through your Spirit, to read and heed your Word – whether from personal Bible study, heard on the radio or seen posted on a billboard sign. Place in their hearts a yearning for your truth and a passion to serve others with your love. Hold them close as they learn to let go of ‘childish ways’ and grow into all that you have planned for them. We entrust them into your care, Lord, that your peace “which surpasses all understanding, will guard [their] hearts and [their] minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7



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