In the coming days, hundreds of our local high school seniors will gather for their final time as a class.

Pomp and Circumstance will be played and parents and grandparents will clap, cry and take lots of pictures as they celebrate this wonderful turning point in the life of their young person.

This year, I feel honored to speak at the Baccalaureate Service for our Auburn High School seniors. I am honored; and yet, I have no idea what I am going to say!

What would you say to a group of 17- and 18-year-old young people? How would you approach speaking to our Auburn seniors who are eager and ready to make their mark on the 21st century?

Would you offer advice? Would you warn them of the rising crisis of student loan debt? Would you encourage savings or a gap year? Would you try and inspire them? What words would you say?

What words did people share with you when you were that age? Can you even remember who spoke or shared a speech during that sacred time of transition in your life?

As one of the pastors of Auburn United Methodist Church it seems best, and fitting, that I share a witness to the one who is known as the “word...made flesh, the one who dwelt among us... full of grace and truth,” Jesus Christ. (John 1:14)

I think if there is any word that I would like to share with our young people it would be the hope and promise that is ours in Christ. A hope that is promised in Psalm 23 of our God who journeys with us through every twist and turn of life.

I don’t remember every word that was shared with me when I was 17 or 18, but I am grateful that along the way I discovered and received the Word, Jesus Christ. The one Word whose love and presence has never left me nor let me go.

I pray for our young people in these exciting days of transition, that through the peaks and valleys of their days they will know and grow in the knowledge and love of God.

I invite you to join me in prayer for them and for their families during these important days.


Dr. Cory Smith is the Senior Minister of Auburn United Methodist Church. He is a graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi, The Candler School of Theology at Emory University and Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia. He is married to Alicia, and they have one daughter, Sarah Morgan.

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