With another graduation under the belt (view graduation photos at the end of this post), I can’t help but reflect on how strange but familiar this ceremony felt. I’m finishing up my second year with Austin Grad and my second graduation ceremony that I have helped orchestrate. But there’s been a lot of strange but familiar this time around. Last year everything was strange for me. I didn’t know all of the graduates very well; I’d never been to the venue before, and all the planning was beyond anything I’d ever done. Thankfully, for the graduates, Renee was right there beside me keeping me on the right path!
This year, I know the graduates a little bit better. Spending a few semesters as their academic liaison, advising and registering them, and sending them countless reminders, has enabled me to love and appreciate the uniqueness that God has placed in each one of them. These are familiar people. And, while the planning and organizing has mostly followed the same timeline and tasks as last year, there is a strangeness about this graduation. We moved the ceremony to a different venue, held the event on a different time and day, two of our regular faculty were absent, and a local preacher, rather than an academic gave our commencement address. It was…strange.
Strange…but familiar – this phrase adequately describes what I believe our graduates will experience (if they haven’t encountered it already) in ministry beyond the walls of this seminary. As I scrambled about trying to get everything in order for this important event for our graduates, I reflected on this phrase many times. I can honestly say that the phrase “well, that’s strange” has been the verdict on many a situation in ministry over the last 10 years. And the one thing that I have concluded from all of these experiences and ruminations is this: Strange and familiar are ready companions.