Friday, August 27, 2010

Speech, Speech!

Here's the address I gave to the University of the South, on the occasion of the "Celebration of a New Year." I spoke, the president of the Student Senate, the Order of the Gownsmen student leader, and the Vice-Chancellor.

Good afternoon, my name is Josh Bowron, I am the student body president for the St. Luke’s community, also known as the School of the Theology at the University of the South. It is an honor to be asked to speak on behalf of the seminarians about our upcoming year.

First, a few words of introduction: The student body of the school of theology is comprised of 70 full time students ranging in age from the early 20s up to . . . something past the early 20s. We hail from Alabama to Atlanta, Maryland to Miami, from California to Korea.

One thing we all have in common is that we are being prepared to serve the church, although in many different capacities. This is the student body. But the seminary is also made up of families, spouses, and dozens of children. All who have left lives built elsewhere to lay down roots on this mountain. While the seminary is an academic institution it is also a place for people and families to be formed for the ministry of the church.
Now, when I was asked to give a preview of our year, many thoughts went through my head. I could talk to you all about the academic rigor. How in our first year we are to, in the words of Dr. Benjamin King, “Learn every event that ever happened in the history of the Church.” I could tell you about the experience of reading the Bible again, but for the first time in the language of the original writers. I could tell you about the mind-blowing and heart-wrenching activity of doing theology. I could tell you all of this: how seminary, much like college, is so thorough and so rigorous that it is, I think, by design, impossible to accomplish on one’s own, so we lean on each other. We help each other. I could tell you all of this.

But I won’t.

Instead I’ll tell you what we are really looking forward to this year.
What we are looking forward to this year is nothing less than a daily encounter with the Creator of the universe. What we are looking forward to this year is to be infused with the dynamic and Holy Spirit of life and growth and love. What we are looking forward to this year is nothing short of a daily visitation with Jesus Christ who is both our dearest, closest friend and our God.

These daily encounters are called grace, and the church recognizes certain ways that grace is to be sought. One is to study, and study we will, along with the undergraduates. Individually we will study within our discreet disciplines but all of us are seeking the same goal: the truth.

Another way we grow in grace is to pray and worship, which we do 15 times each week. Please. Join us. Everyone is always welcome. We will also gather in this Chapel, to celebrate, pray, and yes, to consol each other in those unavoidable tragedies that come with life lived together.

Finally, we can grow in grace in that hottest of hothouses of grace: a community. In case you haven’t noticed, community is a big deal up here, and it’s not just an advertising campaign, it’s real. We are a community: the college, the seminary, the old-timers, the newcomers, the LAND, all in community.

We believe that God can be encountered through the simple give and take of community, whether in the classroom, on the sidewalk, on mission, in argument, at the library, or in line at McClurg.

This is what we look forward to this year: to encounter God in our studies, in our prayer together, and with each other in this place.