And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, and Stand-by) that He may remain with you forever. …I will not leave you as orphans. (Jesus) John 14:16 Amplified

It’s graduation season. Once again, we are tasked with celebrating a familiar moment in a most unfamiliar time. Kudos to those creative folks who have done what they can to make this graduation as special as possible for young people whose traditional landmarks and expectations have been swept away.

I’ve made a particular point of praying for graduates since a classmate of my sons’ was killed in a tragic party years ago. I’ll never forget the sorrow of watching those teenagers attending a funeral five days before their own celebration. There will likely be a lot less of that this year.

But their situation is still full of danger.

Never, except perhaps at times of actual war, have young people had to try their new-fledged wings in such an uncertain and fearful time. We all know the storm of epidemic, economy and politics that rages around us. We all know how difficult it is to make plans, to move forward into an unpredictable future.

Yet move forward they must. And so must we.

Jesus spoke these words to his disciples on the night before His crucifixion. Unknown to these men sitting before him, their own storm of hatred, fear and persecution was about to break. The One they counted on was going to be arrested, tortured, executed.

As Pastor McDevitt reminded us last week, they were left huddled in the upper room, wondering what to do. The resurrected Jesus had appeared to them, calling them out into the world, but they had just seen how dangerous and frightening that world could be.

Like us, they cried, “What now? Where is our help?”

Today we celebrate Jesus’ answer to their desperate question: Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit.

In the book of Acts, we read account after account of the same shivering, frightened people now proclaiming their faith boldly in public, even before the very people who had been instrumental in putting Jesus to death.

What made the difference? The Holy Spirit. With His presence, they went out and changed the world.

As Jesus promised them, He promised us. He is and will be with us, too. In our times of crisis, we can call on the One called “Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, Standby.”

Forever is forever.

That’s one promise our graduates can count on.

Us, too.

DEAR HOLY SPIRIT: Protect our graduates. They are so young; the storms are so scary. Give us all your wisdom, strength and courage. Amen.

To be published in “Bozeman Daily Chronicle,” May 31, 2020.