Good morning, my name is Tim Kelly, and I am a senior graduating from the College of Arts and Sciences with a degree in psychology. As I stand before you today, I realize how many things one can fit in to four years. I have taken 33 college courses, spent over 1,200 hours in lectures, run 3 half marathons, sung more than 10 Bach Cantatas, and have given countless campus tours all since September 2005. But as I reflected on what I was to speak about today, none of these things came to mind as I considered what I now believe as a graduating senior. Actually, I’ve pretty much narrowed it down to three things.
First: God is here. What might seem like the most obvious or simple of statements suddenly becomes questioned, doubted, and sometimes forgotten in daily life. I certainly have been through my share of ups and downs, as I am sure many of you have. What it amazing, however, is that I have experienced God in all sorts of ways. Maybe you experience God through the reading of Scripture. Maybe you see God as you watch a beautiful summer sunset. Maybe you hear God in the music of a classical motet. Perhaps you experience God through people, through friends and family, or even through a loving, kind-hearted brunette in the soprano section of your choir. Maybe you give thanks today, like I do, for your mother or for someone who has played a mother-like role in your life. If you’re like me, you probably experience God through many of these lenses, but certainly I believe that God is here.
Second: we cannot do this alone. I have truly come to value the experience of community within church and Christian life. If community was not important, we’d all be listening to church services on the radio and there would be no need for pews or coffee hour or retreats or passing the peace or fellowship. While I have certainly met great people here at Marsh, I have also searched out community by finding my own separate time to worship away from singing here in the choir, and doing that has given me a wonderful, additional opportunity to grow both personally and spiritually. I truly believe that we cannot go through this adventure, this journey called Christian life by ourselves.
Thirdly: God does not always work in the ways we expect Him to. If you have ever had highs and lows, with some expectations met and some surprises encountered in your life, you, like I, have likely experienced this. I’ve learned that we can take away just as much from a seemingly negative situation as we can from a seemingly positive situation. As a freshman I came upon a quote which at the time I found interesting, and which now I find so true to my own experience:
I asked for strength and God gave me difficulties to make me strong.
I asked for wisdom and God gave me problems to solve.
I asked for prosperity and God gave me brawn and brain to work.
I asked for courage and God gave me dangers to overcome.
I asked for patience and God placed me in situations where I was forced to wait.
I asked for love and God gave me troubled people to help.
I asked for favors and God gave me opportunities.
I asked for everything so I could enjoy life.
Instead, He gave me life so I could enjoy everything.
I received nothing I wanted but I was given everything I needed.
My prayer has been answered.
I believe I am a pilgrim on a continuous journey through my faith that doesn’t stop next week at Commencement. I believe God is here to help me through my journey, not always in the ways expected, but through faith and community, I hope and pray that I may live out God’s will in my life.
Thanks be to God.