My blog posts revolve around my interests and vocation as a historian: the intersection of history and contemporary church life, the intersection of history and contemporary politics, serendipitous discoveries in archives or on research trips, publications and research projects, upcoming conferences, and speaking engagements.
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I was recently reading Douglas Rhymes, Prayer in the Secular City (1967), and was pleasantly surprised by an appendix that offered a liturgy entitled “A Service for Those Leaving School.” And with Christian schools gearing up for convocation services, I thought it would be good to share it.
It is an incredibly insightful liturgy in that it offers prayers for things not often mentioned in liturgies (eg. protection from “slick salesmen”) and provides helpful reminders of traps that lay in waiting for new graduates (eg. dangers of freedom, lust, power). It also casts a vision for a responsible engagement with society as students “enter the arena of a free society.”
Here it is basically unredacted (you will have to adjust stats for cars accidents in Britain, etc.). "Leaver" is for those who are graduating.
Reader: We are about to leave school for the wider world:
Therefore we come together to welcome new freedoms,
to give thanks for our heritage,
to face the world that awaits us,
to set out in the faith of the perfect Man, Jesus Christ,
And we are met in the presence of God our Father, who made us,
in the fellowship of Christ our Brother, who saves us,
in the power of God the invisible spirit, who inspires us.
WE WELCOME NEW FREEDOMS
Reader: The routines of our former life are passing away now.
We have outgrown the formal relationships that have protected and disciplined us.
We leave behind the shelter of the school,
And there will be a decided difference at home.
The strong regulation of school’s communal life is over,
And we enter the arena of a free society.
Reader: Lord, it is your will for us to welcome new freedoms,
We welcome new freedom to embark on a career,
freedom to earn our own money, or to train to earn it,
freedom to spend our money, or to save it,
freedom to fashion new routines and to plan leisure,
freedom to bear new responsibilities,
freedom to make fresh meaning out of life.
We welcome new freedom to grow into the world you have given us,
to travel to the destination you have prepared for us,
to meet and serve the people you have waiting for us.
In the challenge of freedom, Equip us.
In the decisions of freedom, Direct us.
In the art of freedom, Discipline us.
In the dangers of freedom, Protect us.
In the raptures of freedom, Steady us.
In the life of freedom, Give us joy.
In the use of freedom, Grant us wisdom and the long view.
Lord, hear our prayer. And help us to use these new freedoms responsibly.
Reader: In the factory, or firm, in college or office,
In hospital or prison, in city or on the land,
In coffee bar or on the motor way,
In whatever place, in whatever condition,
Leavers: We are always free to love our neighbour,
We are always free to love our God.
Reader: There need not be jealousy or strife between the generations.
Let us know comradeship with those who are older
And comradeship with those who will come after us,
Seeing that we share the same world, and head for the same destination.
Leavers: Help us to love in the spirit of Christ.
Reading: John 16:25–33
TO FACE THE WORLD THAT AWAITS US
Reader: We are in the same world, and we shall have trouble.
We are in the same boat, and the boat is being rocked.
We are of the same population, and the population is exploding.
We are on the same road, and the road is blocked.
What a world! Twenty-one million people killed in one war and the wars still go on.
Everyone still at a loss to know how to turn enemies into friends,
and win their way of life without threat of nuclear disaster.
Two-thirds of the world kept hungry.
Over one hundred killed every week on British roads.
Leavers: Now it is our turn to join in.
We shall be responsible too.
PRAYER FOR PROTECTION
Reader: To bear this responsibility we shall need your protection. Lord—the armour-planting of your spirit.
Leavers: O Lord, protect us.
Reader: Protect us from the big business men who see us as industrial fodder.
Leavers: Yes, Lord protect us. (This response is continued after each sentence of the Reader.)
Reader: From the slick salesmen who treat us as easy market for industrial and commercial
From the glib advertisements that promise success for the price of a tube of toothpaste or a bottle of deodorant,
From the pressure of unscrupulous competition, from the status symbol, and the hankering lust for money, position and power,
From those who would foul our minds, soil our bodies, and ignore our spirits,
From the world, the bomb, the drub, and the road crash,
From ourselves—for we are often our worst enemy. We are like hit and run drivers; we
injure our personalities by the speed with which we move on the surface, rushing
on, leaving our injured and dying spirits alone.
WE SET OUT IN THE FAITH OF THE PERFECT MAN
Reading: John 8:31–36
Reader 1: What, free to suffer?
Reader 2: Yes, but to bear it, and to make meaning out of it.
Reader 1: What, free to stand the relentless din and monotony of the factory?
Reader 2: Yes, but not to be dehumanized by it.
Reader 1: What, free to take interminable exams?
Reader 2: Yes, but not to be victimized by them.
Reader 1: What, free to be involved in the sins of mankind?
Reader 2: Yes, but to be forgiven by the One upon whom they fall.
Reader 1: What, free to believe in a God of love in a world of ruin?
Reader 2: Yes, but not without proving Him to be true.
Reader 1: What, free to die?
Reader 2: Yes, but only to find you are sons and daughters of God and meant for eternity.
Reader 1 and 2: Against all the victimization of the world Jesus has set us free
And we are free indeed!
Reader 2: So in the freedom of the Son, the perfect Man,
We shall make money honestly,
We shall make love honourably,
We shall make time for those who need us,
We shall make friends of our enemies,
We shall make amends straightaway,
We shall make Him supreme,
For His service in the world is perfect freedom.