A Legacy of Learning: Celebrating Generations of Growth and Graduation

Rev. Dr. Derrick Elliott

In the lush embrace of May, our hearts turn to celebrate the tapestry of graduations unfolding across our community. This season, as we laud the achievements of our children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren, we’re reminded of the journey of growth and learning that spans generations.

This year, I find myself among the graduates, poised to receive my Doctor of Ministry on the 6th of May. This achievement marks not just the culmination of my educational journey but also the continuation of a legacy birthed in the heart of my grandfather. A man of humble beginnings, my grandfather, though illiterate, possessed a vision for his lineage—a vision steeped in the pursuit of knowledge and the power of education. His belief in the transformative force of learning was unwavering, a beacon that has guided us through the years.

Reflecting on my academic journey—a Bachelor of Arts followed by two Master’s degrees, and now a Doctorate—I am deeply moved by the thought of how proud my grandfather would have been. My achievements are a testament to his dreams, a tangible manifestation of his invisible yet indelible mark on our family. Each diploma, each ceremony, echoes his legacy, a silent yet potent reminder of where we started and how far we’ve come.

A glance at the past photos of my graduations reveals more than just the milestones achieved. Nestled among the images is the presence of my grandfather, a spectral participant in each celebration before his death. His absence is filled by the weight of his influence, a constant reminder of the foundation he laid for us.

Proverbs 22:6 (NRSVUE) teaches us, “Train children in the right way, and when old, they will not stray.” This wisdom resonates deeply as I consider the impact of my grandfather’s encouragement. His advocacy for education, despite his own limitations, has been a guiding light, illuminating the path not only for me but for generations to come.

As we celebrate graduations within our community, let us remember the sacrifices made by those who came before us. Let us honor their dreams by continuing to value and pursue education, using it as a tool not for self-aggrandizement but as a means to serve and uplift others as Jesus taught us.

The legacy of my grandfather, a man who, despite never having read a word, understood the profound power of education, continues to inspire. It’s a poignant reminder that our achievements are not solely our own but are the fruits of the collective hopes, dreams, and sacrifices of those who laid the foundations upon which we build our futures.

In this season of celebration, let us hold dear the lessons of the past as we forge ahead, mindful of the legacy we, too, will leave for those who follow, being a testament to the enduring power of faith, hope, and the relentless pursuit of knowledge.

Sun Lakes United Church of Christ welcomes you to join us for worship on Saturdays at 4 p.m. Blessings and Peace!