The opening page of the sermon I preached yesterday, as part of a service that combined celebration of Pentecost with the recognition of high school graduates
British humorist P. G. Wodehouse said: “I always advise people
never to give advice.”  His advice about
not giving advice is advice we often ignore, especially during commencement
season.  We can’t seem to help ourselves.  We don’t seem to realize that graduates don’t
want another speech; they want the program to be over so they can do the party
that comes after the program.  And, they
don’t want another card filled with our pearls of wisdom; they want money. 
I don’t have money to give our graduates, but I also hope I don’t
have something as useless as advice.  Instead,
I have a challenge and an invitation for all of us, not just for
graduates.  In his speech to the 2005
graduating class of Kenyon College, the late David Foster Wallace framed the
How to keep
from going through your comfortable, prosperous, respectable adult life dead,
unconscious, a slave to your natural default setting of being uniquely,
completely, imperially alone, day in and day out . . . [How to make] it to
thirty, or maybe even fifty, without wanting to shoot yourself in the head (This is Water, pp. 60, 130). 
That’s the challenge: to live rather than to exist; to be
wide-awake rather than to sleepwalk; to get outside the narrow and dark walls
of ego and find the spaciousness and brightness of a life open to the wonders
of the world and the mysteries of other people; to give your life for things
you believe in, rather than to have your life bled out of you by things you
don’t; and, most of all, to refuse—adamantly, even defiantly refuse—to live
without the transcendent and transforming ecstasy of loving and being
It’s a challenge for all of us, not just graduates.  The cliché’ we say at a commencement is “it’s
the first day of the rest of your life.” 
That’s true for all of us, every day, including today.  Despite what we think and fear, it’s never
too late to take up the challenge of living a life that matters, instead of
settling for whatever kind of life might happen to us.
Here’s the invitation: You can’t meet the challenge of a life
worth living by yourself and on your own, and you don’t have to.  You can, if you will, let Jesus guide you and
accompany you.  One way to understand
Jesus is to think of him as “a Spirit Person” (a phrase Marcus Borg used in Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time).  Jesus was filled to overflowing with the
Spirit, which means he had an immediate and intimate awareness of God’s
presence and power.  The Gospels tell us
that the Spirit descended onto him at his baptism, strengthened him in moments
of temptation and trouble, inspired him in the face of fatigue and frustration,
guided him when he sought wisdom, embraced him when he prayed, and raised him
from the dead after he gave his life for us. 
The Spirit set him aflame with love and caused him to radiate
God’s healing compassion.  The Spirit
showed him bright wonders of mystery and made him shine with the beauty of
God.  The Spirit taught him to dance with
joy, and his delight gladdened his friends. 
The Spirit gave him courage in the face of opposition and enabled him to
embolden people who were tempted to give-up or give-in.  The Spirit showed him that there are heights
and depths of glory just above and beneath the way things appear, and gave him
the words and images to open others’ eyes, ears, and hearts to greater
experience of life.
Jesus, overflowing with the Spirit of God, still does these
things, and can guide us to live our lives in ways that matter.