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Dear Hyde Park Family,

We are now in graduation season here in the Tampa Bay area, as we celebrate high school seniors embarking on an exciting and unfolding future. We will be honoring our seniors this Sunday in worship, as well as praying for graduating students at every level of education.

Yesterday I re-read a passage from Jeremiah that I have often turned to in times of transition and unsettledness in my life, which I also commended to Grace and Madelyn during their own recent graduations from high school:

“The Lord proclaims: Stop at the crossroads and look around; ask for the ancient paths. Where is the good way? Then walk in it and find a resting place for yourselves.” (Jeremiah 6:16)

Addressing the Israelite exiles, who were at a significant crossroads of change and uncertainty, Jeremiah called them to look for the “ancient paths” and the “good way.” He encouraged them to lean into the values and principles that formed them and were imparted by their ancestors.

In that spirit, I offer these words of guidance to our graduates:

  • Look for the ancient paths. Remember the way integrity and obedience to God. Follow the path charted by all those who entrusted the faith to you, and you will always find “a resting place for yourselves.”
  • Cultivate the qualities of empathy, curiosity, and humility. These three will serve you well as you meet new people, navigate new challenges, and become a better human being.
  • Orient your life toward generosity and compassion toward others and toward yourself. Remember how the most important adults in your life demonstrated those qualities for you.
  • Enjoy the discovery of who you are, and who you are not.

  • Know that a life of independence will mean you can make many of your own choices, which means dealing with your own consequences.
  • Remember that sometimes the most important lessons will only be learned in the hardest of ways. You will succeed at times, and sometimes you will fail. You will gain great knowledge, as well as learn the limits of your understanding. You will sometimes come up short, even if you do all the right things.
  • Remember that you will never be alone. Your family and friends will cheer you on. You have a church that will be praying for you over the months to come and will always be a spiritual home that will welcome you back.
  • Recognize that your parents will be changing, too. They will be navigating a new kind of parenthood, shifting toward becoming more of your mentor, coach, and adviser. Give them grace, as they do the best they can.
  • Most of all, hold on to your faith. God began a good work in you from the moment you were born. As you stay faithful to your spiritual roots, you will discover God’s fruit born in and through you in ways you cannot imagine.

Friends, our future is bright because of these rising generations of young people. Born in the shadow of 9/11, raised during a major recession, educated during a global pandemic, and joining in the great social and political challenges of our day, their resilience and determination can give us hope. We pray for them and give thanks for the difference they will make in the world.

Happy Graduation!



Join us this Sunday as we near the conclusion of our worship series Rise: 12 Steps with Jesus. Many of you have shared what a meaningful and helpful series this has been. This Sunday, we will explore Steps 8 and 9, which call us to make amends with others. Download the Rise workbook  and catch up on any services that you missed on our YouTube page.