On the night of the ceremony, I took our son up to the church and we arranged things as needed for the ceremony. We prepared the elements for the Lord’s Supper. As the guests began arriving, it was his duty to greet and welcome them. We tried to arrange beforehand for someone besides a family member to take pictures, since we were all involved in the ceremony.
And finally, we began. (I’m using Philip’s here, but Gerrit’s and Tucker’s were almost identical)
We’re here today to mark Philip’s passage into manhood. In our culture, we don’t really have any kind of traditional, ceremonial way to do this. Our young men have to use things like getting their license, or their first job, or their first whiskers to use as a benchmark that they’ve arrived. And yet, in so many ways, our culture turns right back around and tells them they’re still not ready to do many “adult things”,…they can make the choice to offer their lives in service to their country and still not be legally old enough to do many things: they can’t vote, they can’t get certain jobs,…these are confusing signals.
So, today we want to celebrate, in a tangible way, the fact that Philip has arrived. In so many ways, he’s already demonstrated the qualities that one normally associates with being a “man”. He has been a charismatic leader since birth. He’s shown sound judgment. He’s shown discernment and wisdom. He’s confident in who he is, and has the courage to stand firm for what he believes.
This ceremony is designed to mark the fact that Philip is no longer a child, but it’s not meant to imply that he’s finished becoming a man. He may have left the path of childhood behind, but ahead of him lies a lifelong road of adventures in manhood. So tonight we want to provide Philip with a roadmap,…a group of stars by which he can chart his course through life. They aren’t the only guides he’ll have along the way, but hopefully they’ll provide him with what he needs to get started down that road.
There’s a lot of symbolism in what we do here tonight. It’s fitting that we share this moment together in our church home, surrounded by family and friends, because faith, family and good friends provide us with the foundation on which we build the rest of our lives. Whatever else happens in his life, Philip can always know that God and his family will always be there, and will always love him, unconditionally. Thanks everyone for making this an even more special night, by being here and showing your support for Philip.
Jesus provided us with some symbols of his own that commemorate his commitment to each of us. We’d like to start off this evening by celebrating with you the observance of the Lord’s Supper, in recognition of His sacrifice for us, and the hope we have in Him.
<My boys serve the Lord’s Supper to the gathering. I read some verses, and we pray.>
Jesus final moments with his disciples certainly provide us with a glimpse of the man that he was, but Jesus didn’t just rely on a few big moments in his life to define for us who he really is. He lived his entire life by his principles. He didn’t try to act like a real man in certain settings or with certain people,…he WAS a real man all the time.
Tonight we want to challenge Philip to follow that pattern,…to BE the kind of man he wants to be rather than just hoping people will think that’s who he is. To decide beforehand how he’s going to approach life and its adventures. To live a Life of Faith, a Life of Holiness, a Life of Service and a Life of Excellence.
We asked Philip to identify some men from our church whom he respected and considered to be the kind of men we’re talking about here tonight. Each of these men has pledged to pray for Philip through the remainder of his high school years. And we’ve asked each to provide Philip with a personal letter about what they think it means to be a man.
For each of the areas we’ve also identified a key scripture passage, which Philip has committed to memory as a “lamp unto his feet, and a light unto his path”.
And finally, for each area Philip will be presented with an object or memento as a visual reminder of his commitment to live by these principles.
With that, I asked Philip to come to the front and sit on a stool facing the audience.
The ceremony continues in Part 2.
originally published 11/14/11