As the ceremony continued, I said a few words about each of the four virtues we had selected, beginning with Faith:
A Life of Faith
Faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen. It is knowing that no matter how out-of-control life may seem, God is at the wheel, and things are going to turn out for the best. Knowing that allows us to live a life filled with confidence and free of paralyzing fear. Faith allows us to focus on where we’re going instead of where we’ve been. Faith is our part of the bargain. Without it we can’t please Him.
Heb 12:1&2 1Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
I invited Karen’s dad and the first of the men Philip chose to join him up front. Man #1 prayed over Philip and presented him with the letter he had written to Philip about being a man. The Karen’s dad then displayed his token and said some words about faith. The Faith mementos were different for each of the boys. Gerrit got a shepherd’s staff; Tucker a tall print of a mountain goat leaping across a chasm; and Philip got a shield.
When he was done, Karen’s dad presented this challenge:
“Philip, do you pledge, to the best of your ability, to live a life of Faith?”
Philip replied, “Yes.”
“Then, as a token of that pledge, I to present to you…this shield”
Each of them gave Philip a hug and sat down. I continued with the following words about Holiness:
A Life of Holiness
Holiness means being set apart,…it’s not some kind of call to act strange or out of the ordinary, but an invitation to live life on a completely different level. Holiness requires understanding that the things which most people aspire to,…the things they work for, and concentrate on, and devote their lives to are largely meaningless. Holiness recognizes that taking another path doesn’t mean missing out on life, but, quite the contrary, means experiencing all of life to the absolute fullest, unhindered by the limits of current fads or popular culture. Holiness calls us to walk through life side by side with God, seeing it all through His eyes.
Rom 12: 1&2 1Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship. 2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.
I invited Karen and the next man to join Philip. Man #2 prayed over Philip and presented his letter. Then Karen presented a blessing and explained her token: a ring. This was a token of their purity that we intended them to present to their wives one day. Until then, they wore it on the same chain where they kept the engraved cross we gave them when they were baptized.
When she was done, Karen presented this challenge:
“Philip, do you pledge, to the best of your ability, to live a life of Holiness?”
Philip replied, “Yes.”
“Then, as a token of that pledge, I to present to you…this ring”
Each of them gave Philip a hug and sat down. I continued with the following words about Service:
A Life of Service
Service is the natural result of a life lived in perspective. To serve is to recognize that what we have not only far outweighs what we need, but it was never really intended for us to keep in the first place. Service is a contest to see if we can dispense blessings as fast as God is piling them up behind us. Service is not an option. All men serve someone or something; and for most it is themselves. Choosing to ignore or avoid God’s service (and it is a choice regardless of what excuses we come up with) is to condemn ourselves to living a life as salt without flavor. And salt without flavor is worthless. God has prepared good works in advance for each of us to do, and He has specifically equipped each of us for the task. Service shows God that we get the point.
1 Peter 4:10-11 10Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. 11If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
I invited my dad and Man #3 to join Philip. The man prayed over Philip and presented his letter. Then my dad said a few words about the connection between service and how we choose to spend our time. Then he displayed his token: a watch.
When he was done, he presented Philip with this challenge:
“Philip, do you pledge, to the best of your ability, to live a life of Service?”
Philip replied, “Yes.”
“Then, as a token of that pledge, I to present to you…this watch”
Each of them gave Philip a hug and sat down. I continued with the following words about Excellence:
A Life of Excellence
Excellence understands that true satisfaction comes only from our best efforts.
Excellence leads. It recognizes that leadership is a calling, bestowed not on those who want to be great, but on those who can show those whom they lead how they can achieve greatness.
Excellence also follows, by emulating the examples of great men:
“A wise man ought always to follow the paths beaten by great men, and to imitate those who have been supreme, so that if his ability does not equal theirs, at least it will savor of it. Let him act like the clever archers who, designing to hit the mark which yet appears too far distant, and knowing the limits to which the strength of their bow attains, take aim much higher than the mark, not to reach by their strength or arrow to so great a height, but to be able with the aid of so high an aim to hit the mark they wish to reach.” (Machiavelli, The Prince)
“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.” (Teddy Roosevelt)
Philippians 4:6-8 6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
I invited Man #4 to join me at Philip’s side. He prayed over Philip and presented his letter. Then I asked Gerrit and Tucker to bring the sword. I talked a bit about the sword, which was my father’s ceremonial saber in the Navy. (Gerrit and Tuck were each given swords my Grandpa Burke brought back from Europe after WW2.)
“Philip, do you pledge, to the best of your ability, to live a life of Excellence?”
Philip replied, “yes.”
“Then, as a token of that pledge, I to present to you…this sword”
In remembrance of the pledges you have made.”
(Touching the right shoulder with the sword)
“In remembrance of your lineage and obligations.”
(Touching the left shoulder)
“In remembrance of the God whom you serve.”
…….(Touching the head)
“Philip Dayton Burke, brother of Gerrit and Tucker, son of David, son of Patrick, son of Hubert, son of Clyde and Andrew and Moses, rise and join the company of men.”
He rose and together we turned toward the crowd, to whom I announced,
“This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased.”
originally published 11/27/11| next post The Queen