The Bandy family are well known for their ability to prepare exceptionally delicious food in large quantities, and they were in top form for this party. We grabbed this photo earlier in the day as Ruth placed paper liners on the tray, while Grace cut cheesecake, and Emil filled each empty cup.
The graduates each had a table decorated with items of interest or projects they've completed. Lily's was heavy on the themes of sewing, fine literature, and classical music...
Steve presented Emil's diploma after charging him to keep God's focus, keep God's Word, and keep God's task.
Grace and Ashton Bandy looking a bit exhausted after a long day of food preparation, mingling with guests, and dancing with gusto.
For anyone interested, here are my comments before presenting Lily with her diploma:
As we pause today to celebrate the fact that Lily and Emil have each completed the requirements of their respective schools, we could ask, why do we teach our children? I think it’s obvious that only the most perverse parent has no desire to teach their child to talk, or walk, or how to eat, or how to clean one’s own body; God has created people with this natural desire to teach our children. More amazing than that is the fact that our children want to learn even more than we want to teach them. Children may not learn the things we want them to learn when we don’t teach it ourselves, but they do learn. If you neglect to teach your child how to tie their shoes it may be a long time before they learn that skill, but in the meantime, they are learning. They are learning by imitating the people around them, whether they intend to be teaching or not. God has created humans to be teachers, but even more so to be learners.
Lily and Emil have been students for many years, and will be learners for many more. They have sometimes studied things that piqued their interest, and sometimes were forced to study things they cared little about. Like many of us who have gone before them, they’ve faithfully endured when the purpose for the study was not apparent. They’ve reached the age when they have much more freedom in what they study -- similar to when they were very young. I offer this charge to you, Lily, and to any others that wish to accept it: be careful and deliberate in what you study.
Deuteronomy chapter 6 is a favorite of homeschooling parents, but its message applies to all of us: "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates." (Deuteronomy 6:4-9)
Our first and most important point of study is in learning how to love God with all our heart, soul, and might. This applies to all of us: parents and children alike. The next few verses seem to be addressed to the ones doing the instructing, but they could just as easily be applied to all learners. Just as we are instructed to teach our children in all the situations of life, we must also be prepared to learn in all the situations of life. Those unprepared to learn will miss much of the education God intends for them.
How does one learn to know and love God in the situations of life? Jesus once told his disciples: "Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me." (John 15:4)
We study God by abiding in Jesus: reading his word, memorizing and meditating on scripture, communicating with God in prayer, and allowing Jesus to bear fruit through us, even the fruit of learning. As we abide in Christ, his word bears on each circumstance and shapes each thought, transforming us by the renewing of our minds. Abiding in Christ is how we live, as opposed to simply existing. Near the end of his time with his disciples, Jesus prayed: "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." (John 17:3) Studying God, knowing God, is life itself.
One would be remiss to not mention the second greatest commandment, which is of course: "…Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself…" (Mark 12:31)
But even the second cannot be accomplished without the first. We cannot bear the fruit of loving our neighbors unless we abide in Christ. In fact keeping the second, and all other commandments is evidence that we are successful in studying God.
"And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him." (I John 2:3-5)
Note the last verse of that section: if we keep his word, the love of God is perfected in us, which is proof that we are abiding in him. So by studying to know and love God, you can choose the study that will enable you to accomplish all of God’s commandments, and direct you in meaningful pursuits.