Certain events require ceremony, and graduation is one of these events. In an institution like Southern Seminary, commencements seem to come with astonishing velocity. The school is 152 years old, and this is its 208th commencement ceremony. It marks my 37th opportunity to preside at this ceremony, and by the time students graduate from Southern Seminary, they are old hands at receiving diplomas and degrees.
Yet, at the same time, this experience never grows stale. Something too important is happening here, and happening once again. This is not just a gathering of graduates who are about to be recognized for their achievement. It is a final opportunity to gather an assembly of pastors, missionaries, ministers, and servants of the church as they are ready to go out to the ends of the earth.
The formality of the occasion marks this as a part of our academic heritage. These graduates join a long line of those who have received the blessings of education and learning and are now to be recognized for their achievement by the awarding of degrees. The faculty and guests gathered here testify to the worthiness of these graduates and their new stewardship of knowledge. Anyone familiar with higher education would recognize almost everything that will take place here today, right down to the details of the ceremony and the patterns of the regalia….
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