Last Words, By & To Class of 2013
GOOD AFTERNOON! What a privilege it is to be with all of you in this beautiful space. We are surrounded not only by our professors, family members, and friends—but also by the saints, by our ancestors, by our loved ones who cannot be here in person yet certainly are close in spirit. Truly, Love is present.
In November 1956— only seventeen months after obtaining his PhD from Boston University’s School of Theology—Martin Luther King, Jr. preached a sermon in Montgomery, Alabama, that sounded like a valedictory address. Discussing life’s ultimate meaning, King said, “The end [purpose] of life is not to achieve pleasure and avoid pain. The end of life is to do the will of God, come what may . . . I think I have discovered the [universe’s] highest good. It is love. This principle stands at the center of the cosmos. As [the Gospel of] John says, ‘God is love.’ He who loves is a participant in the being of God. He who hates does not know God.”1
But what, exactly, is the love that King referenced? What is this love that “stands at the center of the cosmos”? Surely, it is more than a syrupy version of love that denies the world’s conflict and pain. Surely, it is more than the saccharine sentimentality that has spawned countless pop songs and platitudes. MORE
Most of us probably have a family member or friend who is the source of all of our favorite proverbial wisdom. If you didn’t have one coming into the School of Theology, hopefully you found one here. If not, I know there are some professors here who have quite a social media following that you can check out! For me, that source is my great-grandmother. She was one of those people who had such a deep and abiding faith in God’s infinite goodness that I and others just wanted to be around her.
As I began to think about my message for this commencement, the latest offering of the School of the Prophets, a truly inspiring group of folks – one of my great-grandmother’s nuggets came to mind. She said to my grandmother just after my mother was born, “Dear One, Life is a continual cutting of the cord. Let each cut be painless.” Like truly great proverbial expressions, this can take on many different meanings and, as I am sure this group appreciates, theological significance. MORE
The final worship service of 2013 was titled: