June marks a season of endings and beginnings. It is the end of the school year and the beginning of summer. For graduates, it may also signify the end of school and the beginning of a new adventure with the start of their career. For officers in The Salvation Army, June is often a time to end an appointment and begin a new one. Endings and beginnings can elicit a number of different emotions—sadness to be leaving the familiar, fear of the unknown future, but also anticipation and excitement for the start of a new adventure. No matter what beginnings and endings we face in life, we can “Be still because God is the Alpha and the Omega” and can be trusted to be with us in all circumstances.
Decorate the meeting room for a graduation party. Use the colors of the local high school or college as the color scheme.
If you have young people (or older folks) who are graduating from high school or college, invite them to this program. If there are individuals who are graduating from the ARC program in your city, they could also be invited. Take time to recognize each graduate. This could be done in the form of an interview by asking: the name of their school; are they graduating from high school/college/ARC/other, and what are their plans for the future. Plan to recognize each graduate with a small gift. Close this section of the program by praying specifically for each of the graduates asking God to be with them and guide them as they start their new adventure.
If the graduates from the corps are unable to attend this program, ask the women to write notes of encouragement assuring them that they will be praying for them. If your corps has no graduates, send the cards to those individuals who are ending one season and beginning a new one. For examples: those recently widowed or divorced; a new mom who is struggling; an empty nester whose children have just left; those individuals who have received a health diagnosis that will affect them in a negative way; someone who has just moved out of the area; or someone who has had to move from living in their own home to a nursing home and is struggling to adapt to this new living situation. The notes could also be sent to all the corps kids congratulating them on finishing another school year. An alternate idea is to send cards to the officers and/or their children who are under farewell orders assuring them of your prayers during this time of transition. Explain that June moves can be an especially stressful time for officer families.
Include verses about God’s eternal nature as encouragement such as Psalm 90:2, Isaiah 40:28, 29, Hebrews 13:8, Revelation 1:8. Spend time praying for each individual person who will be receiving a card.
Fun and Games
Invite the women to play The Game of Life board game. This game focuses on some of the beginnings and endings of life as well as some of the joys and struggles. Another option is to play Chutes and Ladders, which also emphasizes the ups and downs of life.
Suggested Songs for Worship:
From The Salvation Army Song Book
“Eternal God, Unchanging” (Song #12)
“Now Thank We All Our God” (Song #45)
“O God, Our Help In Ages Past” (Song #47)
“Leaning on the Everlasting Arms” (Song #906)
Praise and Worship Choruses:
(Links are included for videos with lyrics)
“How Great is our God,” Chris Tomlin https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wDgmJFw6F64
“Everlasting God,” Chris Tomlin https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yubLGTOcm8c
“Sovereign,” Chris Tomlin https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JMTG13qVY3g
“Through it All,” Hillsong Worship https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RrKbu6OwJv0
The Beginning and the End
I love books and am an avid reader. When I start reading a new novel, the beginning of the story had better grab my attention quickly or I might stop reading it. However, if the story is exciting, I have a hard time putting it down. I also admit that sometimes, if the story gets intense and I am concerned about one of the characters, I skip to the end to make sure it has a happy ending. Sometimes if the ending isn’t the way I hope, I even stop reading it.
Life is about endings and beginnings. What are some beginnings that we experience in our lifetime? (Examples: graduating from school, beginning a new job, moving to a new home, making a new friend). What are some endings we experience? (Health changes that impact the quality of life or living arrangements, death of a family member or friend, becoming an empty nester or downsizing to a smaller home). Some beginnings and endings are good and some are not. However no matter what beginning or ending we are facing, we can be still and relax knowing that God is the God of all beginnings and all endings. If you open the Bible to the beginning, the first verse that you read is Genesis 1:1, which states, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Before anything else there was God, He has always been. When He created the heavens and the earth, He began everything.
Near the middle of the Bible, in Isaiah 44:6, God says, “This is what the Lord says—Israel’s King and Redeemer, the Lord Almighty: I am the first and I am the last; apart from Me there is no God.” In Revelation 1:8, the last book of the Bible, we see the same thing, “‘I Am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.’” Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. For God to call Himself the Alpha and Omega is saying He is God from A–Z—from first to last, from top to bottom, from start to finish, from beginning to end.
As God was there in the beginning, He’ll be there at the end. He is the same God through our entire story: the good, the bad, the ugly, the scary, the exciting, and the mundane. Whatever plays out in the future, God already knows—the plot twists and cliffhangers. He has already prepared for them all. Although parts of our story can be real nail–biters, God is never caught unaware or off guard. Often we forget that God is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, and our lives are consumed with worry, fear, panic, doubt and despair. When we do remember, we can then be still in the knowledge that God is God
What in your life is causing you not to be still and is keeping you from resting in the fact that God is over all your beginnings and endings and that there is nothing that God can’t handle? I have read to the end of God’s story and guess what? For those who receive Him as their savior, there is a happy ending!
Time of Commitment
Supplies: cardstock paper shaped like graduation caps printed with the letters A–Z.
Instructions: On the graduation cap card write things, people or situations that you are concerned about for each letter of the alphabet. (Encourage the women to pray over their lists as the song “Jesus, Lover of My Soul (It’s All About You) by Paul Oakley plays. For a lyric video for this song go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c9pYTGoX2Ro). You have prayed over each item on your card, now write, “God is Alpha and Omega” over the list with a permanent marker. As graduates toss their caps in the air as an indication they are finished with school, toss your cap with your lists of concerns and worries into the air, as an indication that you are done worrying over them and are going to let our Alpha and Omega do His job.
Sing or read song #1041, “This, This Is the God We Adore,” from The Salvation Army Song Book.