Today was a great day. GREAT.
The day began with THE best chapel service I have ever been to at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. It was two hours long and included great music by a praise ensemble and two choirs, the Gospel read in multiple languages, a sermon that was full of the Holy Spirit from someone who is clearly called to preach, a sharing of Eucharist for the hundreds who were gathered, and a sending forth with anointing and laying on of hands for the graduates.
Following chapel, the festivities continued over lunch at 1st United Methodist Church of Evanston, where the graduation ceremony was to be held just a couple of hours later. It was great to have this block of time to chat with the anxious graduates and their families, as well as see some familiar faces of friends who have graduated in years past and returned to wish the graduates luck.
The graduation itself was great as well. It began with music and some necessary recognitions of distinguished persons among us. The address titled "What Are the Things That Make for Peace? Building Peace in the Midst of Conflict" was given by Father Alias Chacour, Archbishop of Galilee. He began by jokingly telling us, "You will always remember this day... and you will always remember me." We will indeed remember, as he noted, the day the "pastor of Jesus' church, of Jesus' mother, aunts, uncles, and cousins" came to speak to, bless, and send forth graduates of Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. The appropriate level of humor he used allowed for greater reception of carefully chosen words he came to share. His address was short and to the point, something we could all appreciate on many levels. It was indeed an honor to have him among us.
Following the reception of the graduates and some picture-taking opportunities, it was nice to have a relaxed dinner with some friends (old and new) who will all be around next year. Too often, even when we go out to share in a meal, we are in a hurry to get somewhere. This was a nice change of pace as we sat to enjoy one another's company purely for the joy of it.