The large sanctuary of Notre Dame didn't overflow with people this evening, but every row boasted bodies. The Hickory High School class of 2012 participated in their baccalaureate, a voluntary exercise.
As I drove up to the church early I thought, the parking lot held few empty spaces. The evening is cool, yet sunny with puffy clouds. A choice to stay home to enjoy this weather or come to a church on a Sunday had been free.
My daughter sang with the chamber singers, but I believe this also was a voluntary choice. Yet, the group is full. Other underclassmen scattered through the wide sanctuary.
It pleases me that still a large percentage of the graduating class has donned their cap and gown when they are not forced by school to do so. They are not getting their diplomas tonight. This is clearly a religious service. It is tradition, as well, but the large audience shows that many are allowing God and Jesus in their lives.
The graduates marched into Onward Christian Soldiers, a hymn I dare say is hardly sung in any church now, due to the military tone. The students lead us in the Lord's Prayer, the pledges to the American flag, the Christian flag, and the Bible. Scripture is read from the Gospel of John. The speaker had been a youth pastor and now serves a church outside of West Middlesex. He spoke on "Whatever." The evangelist, Deborah Sanders, again sent chills and goosebumps as she sang Battle Hymn of the Republic, in her powerful voice. I can never tire of hearing this lovely woman sing. She also sang another song about flying, so appropriate for fledgling young adults. The final charge is clearly Christian and emotional.
I pray for these men and women that I have had the privilege of knowing. Long live freedom.