Today we held the Final Chapel Service for the Class of 2016. Led by Reverend Beth Donnelly, it was a great sunny day to farewell the Year 12 students. Please take a chance to read Beth’s sermon from today’s service.
Year 12 Final Chapel Message
What does the Lord require of you? Year 12s: you’ve probably had just about enough of people requiring things from you right about now. Teachers requiring you to study, parents requiring you to tell them where you’re going, friends requiring you to drive them to Maccas because they’re Victorian and still haven’t got their Ps yet. People always seem to want more and more out of you! It’s a rough life. And now here I am to tell you, via Mr Barrows and the prophet Micah, that I’m sorry, yet more is required of you.
At the beginning of this year in our first chapel together, we looked at the humble beginnings of another prophet, the prophet Jeremiah. He wasn’t coping all that well with the whole “being thrust into life as a prophet at age 12”; but I said being a prophet doesn’t require a qualification or experience, but just a willingness to be a voice for the voiceless. And we looked at Humans of New York, Brandon Stanton, as an example of a modern day prophet. Like Jeremiah, he didn’t have experience or qualifications; just a camera, a Facebook page and a willingness to connect with other people. But that willingness to connect seems to have struck a chord with one or two, or 18 million people.
What does the Lord require of you? What did the Lord require of Jeremiah, or Micah, or Humans of New York?
The Lord requires, according to the prophet Micah, 3 things: for you to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God. Do justice, love kindness, walk humbly. God doesn’t need extravagant rituals or prayers, doesn’t need me here in this robe, doesn’t need fancy buildings, doesn’t need you to sacrifice any calves or lay down gifts of olive oil with solemn words (in case you were going to); so don’t stress about having something else required of you, it’s only justice, kindness and humility. Only.
So to do justice. Justice is fairly easy to get our heads around, the kinders understand when something isn’t fair. Doing justice – acting justly – is seeing something that isn’t fair, and acting in order to put it right. Not too big a task right, you can fit that around your study.
And then to love kindness – kindness might sometimes seem like opposite of justice. Rather than about acting to put right something that’s unfair or unjust, loving the value of kindness is about respecting the right of everyone to a second chance. It’s recognizing that we’re all human, as equally flawed as each other, albeit in different ways.
And walking humbly – remembering it’s not all about you; you’re part of something bigger.
Each of these requirements is about being connected to other people. Just like the other prophets found: God requires you to be connected.
If you’ve heard this requirement before – do justice, love kindness, walk humbly – it might be from the Micah campaign a few years ago. It was a campaign in connection with the millennium development goals, a set of goals built by the UN to combat global poverty, things like halve the amount of people living below the poverty line, increase clean water access and education, stop women dying in childbirth. So pretty epic goals, maybe the UN equivalent of a goal of a 99 atar; achievable, but only if you spare no effort, which is what they pledged to do.
The Micah campaign encouraged Christians to think about the goals as a response to their faith, as doing what the Lord requires of them. There are things in the world that aren’t fair?: act justly to set it right. There are people in the world who need a second chance: give it to them. There are things in your own life that aren’t perfect? Well hey, it’s not all about you, we promised to spare no effort here, you’re going to have to duct tape up your broken shoes and keep trudging.
It might feel like the trudging this year has been getting harder and harder: as you’re going people keep throwing more and more things in your pack and expecting you to just keep climbing. But, if nothing else at this school, I hope you’ve experienced the power that comes with being collaborative. It sounds so cheesy, but there’s truth in the cliché that when humans work together, amazing things can happen. When the Millennium Development Goals were drawn up in the year 2000, I’m sure there were more than a couple of people who would’ve want to tell old mate Ban Ki-Moon that he was dreaming. But astoundingly, huge leaps forward were made. Compared with 20 years ago, 17,000 fewer children die every single day from preventable diseases, 2.6 billion more people have gained access to clean water and the global number of women dying in pregnancy or childbirth has almost halved. That is what happens when humans work collaboratively. When humans connect with other humans.
You don’t need fancy buildings, or fattened calves or rivers of oil. You don’t need years of experience or 18 million Facebook followers. You don’t even need a straightforward career path out of here. All that is required of you is to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly. Use your opportunities here to make an impact, not just in your own life but in the lives of others. Remembering that as you do this, you are connected to each other, to the global community, and to the bigger picture.