The Sunday Sermonette: New Year’s Graduation 2024.

Going from the Old Year to the New Year is like graduation. And like graduation, it can be a meaningful time to pause and reflect on the past year while looking ahead to a fresh new year and all its possibilities. Taking stock of the past year, with its positives and negatives, is beneficial for fueling the motivation needed to accomplish New Year’s resolutions. Looking back is also helpful in realizing how major milestones were weathered, essential goals were achieved, and valuable lessons were learned.

     While thinking about 2024’s New Year’s graduation, I could not help but ponder my own graduations: Kindergarten, High School, College, and Graduate School. Loving music as I do, I thought it would be entertaining to research the Number 1 Hit Song for each of my graduation years. The results were surprising.         

     I graduated from sweet Mrs. Moore’s Kindergarten in 1958. That year’s Hit Song was the Everly Brothers’ “All I Have To Do Is Dream.” At the ripe old age of six, my only dream was dreaming of watching “Howdy Doodie” and “The Lone Ranger.” However, my high school graduation song conjured thoughts of unpleasant things.

     “When you’re weary. Feeling small. When tears are in your eyes…” The first time I heard the opening lyrics of Simon and Garfunkel’s 1970 classic, “A Bridge Over Trouble Water,” I was driving to church choir practice alone in Dad’s olive-green Plymouth Fury III. The song’s lyrics touched my eighteen-year-old heart—a heart weary from the bullies at school, a heart that felt small due to its insecurities and self-doubt, a heart filled with tears due to its failures and a lack of self-worth. In those days, I often looked for that elusive bridge over the troubled water of my life. Little did I know that my 1974 college graduation song would add to my heart’s misery. Or did it?  

     Barbara Streisand was not a household name at our house. I don’t remember seeing any of her early movies, but when I saw “The Way We Were,” its title song captured my heart. My last summer at college is now nothing more than “misty, water-color memories.” But when those memories were in their infancy, being molded by unrequited love, fears of rejection, and a longing for “that which was and could never be again,” I discovered something inside me that all that misery could not squelch. I discovered me—an indomitable summer in the frigid cold of life’s winter!

     Then came Graduate School. And at its graduation, the Hit Song of 1975 echoed in my ears. Captain and Tennille’s “Love Will Keep Us Together” speaks of their love for each other, which I’m sure they thought would last forever. But after thirty-nine years of marriage, they ended up in the divorce courts. But there is a love that will indeed keep us all together. It’s an eternal love.

     Youth and beauty fade, family and friends come and go, old age takes its toll, and death lurks just around the corner. However, the love of God and his only Son, Jesus, never fades, never changes, and lives forever. That love is a choice; choose wisely. And if you do, all you’ll have to do is dream about your future in Heaven. You’ll have found that bridge over troubled water. You won’t have to worry about the way you were. And you’ll know that the love that keeps us together is more than a song title. It’s a promise from God.

     Ponder this and go forth.