Summary: When thinking of the past and the future, we often lose sight of the present. That robs us of present joy. Never let past failures or future fear rob you of present joy.

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Thinking Is Hard Philippians 3:12-16

2014 Baccalaureate Sermon by Don Emmitte, Grace Restoration Ministries

I have been privileged to speak at many baccalaureates through the years. Since I have three sons, all who are well beyond their own High School graduation, I was able to speak to each of their classes. There have been other classes as well; however, each of those presented a special challenge. My hope is that these brief words tonight will provide you with some balance as you move from this milestone to all of your future marks in life. My goal is simply to give you one principle that will help you move forward with as little difficulty as possible and be as brief as possible. After all, we are here for the refreshments… right?

Some time ago as I began to do a little research into the many recorded valedictorian and baccalaureate speeches given through the years, I found many that covered a wide range of topics and tones. Some were serious, others humorous. One stuck with me. It is from Alexander Simpson, 2010 Valedictorian of Mt. Pleasant High School:

"Hello Principal Diamond, faculty, teachers, students, parents, grandparents, my girlfriend Sara who is in college, my cousin Sarah who is not my girlfriend and has an H in her name, our school janitor Boris, and also, to my favorite part of our school, hello vending machines. I will miss getting Starbursts from you.

My name is Alex Simpson and this is a graduation speech. I’m giving a graduation speech because we’re graduating. This is nice, right? I love giving graduation speeches. I wish I’d done this more in high school. Right now, you’re probably wondering why I was chosen to give the graduation speech. It’s not because I am the valedictorian. It’s not because I am abnormally good-looking, although, as you can see, I certainly am. It’s because my father’s company gave a large donation to the school. This speech is sponsored by your local Simpson’s Toyota dealer. Come on down and get your hands on some recently recalled vehicles with 0% APR financing. Ask for Alexander Simpson Senior. So, I’ve been told that graduation is a time for inspiration and reflection. I think reflection is difficult because it requires us to think.

Thinking is hard. This is a nugget of wisdom I want you to take away and remember forever. My dad told me that in order to make a speech to be effective, you have to repeat things more than once, so again, let me say, thinking is hard.

That’s one of the reasons I’m glad to be graduating from Mount Pleasant High School. I won’t have to think all that much, because when I go to college, I plan on having my father make donations there too. No more reflection for me. The only kind of reflection I like is the one I see the mirror. You like it too, right?

Even though I didn’t want to do that much thinking, I wanted everyone in the Class of 2010 to feel like this speech was really one of the best speeches they’ve ever heard, right on par with the Gettysburg address, the “ I Have a Dream Speech,” or my personal favorite, “The Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television.” That’s some life-changing stuff, right? Right, people?

Barack Obama is a very good speaker. He gives great speeches too. That’s why we are talking about him. I like him because he’s good at basketball and because yes, I do in fact have a crush on Sasha. One thing Barack does in his speeches is repeat phrases. Which I did before too, remember? He also says, yes we can. So that is what I am saying to you, Class of 2010. Yes we can. Yes we can graduate school. Yes we can get accepted into colleges because our dads are powerful businessmen. Yes we can now forget the elements in the periodic tables. Yes we can live in dorms and hang up posters to make people think we are interesting and smart. Yes we can forget how to forge our doctor’s signatures to get out of gym. Yes we can flunk Spanish and still graduate. Yes we can enjoy our summers, and if you’re me or one of my three friends, you can enjoy the summer at my lake house sipping on virgin daiquiris, but pretending to be drunk.

That part of the speech was called the “Yes We Can Reprise.” Now is the part of the speech where I ask: Does anybody have a sandwich?

In the event that no one stands up to offer me a sandwich, I have alerted my friend Daniel to stand up and bring me some Subway I purchased this morning. Though it is a few hours old and a bit soggy, I still want Danny to bring it to me. Danny?

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