Ministry in Context

We Have Marked These Days With Promise: A Reflection on Graduation

It is a particularly special time in the life of many Luther Seminary students. As graduation approaches, the anticipation and hope for the future beyond seminary beckons with each passing day. And yet, “not so fast,” we say. So many of the students at Luther have been deeply embedded in contexts with meaningful and generative relationships. Supervisors and staff, students and families alike, have welcomed them into the very fabric of their personal and communal lives.

I think of the many CYF students that I have journeyed with since they began at Luther a short time ago. For their contexts, we made some promises. We said that this student is not only coming to learn, but also to lead and to walk alongside in life, in suffering, in joy, in ministry.

With the power vested in you by the working of the Holy Spirit, you have done well, “good and faithful servant.” Now go in peace, and continue to build a trustworthy world by making and living into such promises that are shaping and nourishing lives!

We said that these students would embody a certain way of life in their leadership. In particular, they would be passionate about children and youth, seeking ways to join them on the road they are on. They would be relational, as seen in the public ministry witness of Christ himself. We also said that our students would be mindful that they cannot do this work alone. We promised that they would enlist other adults and caring volunteers, to enter into the lives of these children, youth, and families in such a way that they would see that there is a whole cloud of witnesses that engages in ministry. This calling is not for the lone ranger!

We acknowledged that there would be times of crisis in kids and families lives, and ensured contexts that our students would be attuned to that reality. A theology of the cross brings depth and breadth to these moments in time. Not shying away from the hurt or disappointment, such theology dwells in solidarity with those who seek respite and quite often, seek presence and hope.

We also promised to send out students who were drawing wisdom and insight from scripture, from prayer, and from acts of mercy and justice. Methods and strategies for entering these practices and conversations were are big part of our promise.

And, finally we promised that our students would be encouragers. Charged with calling out the gifts of children and youth, our students took to fanning the flame, giving the nudge, finding the “spark” in each of the people they encountered.

And, you know what? When I look at our impressive list of graduates that are preparing to receive their diplomas this Spring? I can say, “We did it! We have fulfilled our promises!” Well, if any students are reading this, I should say: you did it. With the power vested in you by the working of the Holy Spirit, you have done well, “good and faithful servant.” Now go in peace, and continue to build a trustworthy world by making and living into such promises that are shaping and nourishing lives!

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