Today is a double celebration type of day at our congregation. In this morning's Divine Service we will witness the Confirmation of faith of four youth and three adults; and in the evening, a Graduation ceremony for the four eighth grade girls at the congregation's school.
It's important that these two events are celebrated separately, because they certainly are different. Confirmation is never a "graduation" from anything, but an affirmation of the faith received at Holy Baptism, and the public renewal of vows to remain steadfast in God's Word until death. When our personal history is written, it may include landmarks of growth in our faith life, but it will never include a "finish line" until we have joined our Savior in Heaven.
Graduation ceremonies, on the other had, celebrate the end of an era. A goal has been reached and those who have attained the goal are to be commended for their perseverance and perhaps for any unique or outstanding achievements along the way. On these occasions graduates are often reminded that they should not rest on their laurels, but must go forward with some sort of grit and determination into the next era of their lives.
Our personal history tells us that life does need grit and determination from time to time. But it also tells us, as does Scripture, that it is the Holy Spirit working through the Word and Sacraments which shores up, sustains, challenges, feeds, and grows our faith. We have no power in and of ourselves to do such a work. Thanks be to God that He gives us these means of grace!