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We have 34 graduates this year. They are mostly local to the great city of Houston and its surrounding region. Most of their friends and family will have a tough time making the journey to Dallas to celebrate their commencement achievements.
To give local family and friends the chance to be a part of this substantial celebration, our extension campus has a Graduation Chapel one week prior to the central festivities up north. We honor each graduate with a brief description of what their plans and destination is after they receive their sheep skin. We fill the chapel service with great worship, intimate prayer, laughter, memories and special recognition of those who stood out with academic and service demonstrations.
I scanned the crowd many times during this chapel service. The smiles were a mile wide and the tears were free-flowing. Trying to imagine all of the answered prayers for the many years represented by these graduates is mind-blowing.
Photographs with special people were endless. The four sheet cakes disappeared as the party spread into the foyer. Guests drank sweet punch, returned endless times for refreshing chilled water and stopped many times along their course of walking to congratulate and exchange hugs with fellow classmates.
Previous graduates returned to cheer on their friends. Current students marveled and told me that they had something even more to anticipate. Relatives were overcome with the joy of reaching this end.
Children were laughing with their parents. One mom told me that she was rehearsing her Hebrew vocabulary flash cards while in labor for the little one that she hugged next to her leg. Life and success cannot get much more precious than this.
Gratitude is over the top on this event. Conversations about calling, dreams about the ministry to come and deep gratitude of God’s faithfulness were common in the crowd. With pride I watched out once students now shine as Masters of Theology, Masters of Arts and Over-comers in all sorts of adversities.
Faithful too are the staff and faculty that I am privileged to call “Team Houston”. They are selfless, persevering and godly men and women who live to serve others. Here on a Saturday, they are going above and beyond the call of duty to make sure that these graduates always remember this day.
photo credit: brucefong photography