Dean Harold Attridge
May 23, 2005
Yale Divinity School Commencement
Charge to the Graduates
Finis omnium imminet, as the ads for the recent TV series declared. It's almost over: just one more bit of speechifying to get through and then you'll get your degrees and be on your way.
Why so much oratory this weekend? You graduates know us on the faculty all too well—some even do a reasonable facsimile of a Boston accent! You know, then, that we can't resist getting one last crack at you before you head off to lives of service, to church, academy and world. So before you go, tradition dictates that I give you a charge and exhortation to make the most of the degree you have earned.
By now, of course, you have already heard exhortations galore, and all are worth remembering. If you were at Episcopal evensong on Sunday, you heard Joe Britton, preaching on the verse “Jesus wept,” urge you to think about what makes you weep, either for joy or sorrow. At commencement worship yesterday, you heard David Bartlett urge you to “move on” keeping in mind the ecumenical breadth that you experienced here. At today's communion service, you heard David Kelsey remind us that “it's all about God,” not us.
You also heard the scriptures giving you words of encouragement: Romans 12 telling to act in love; or Matthew today reminding you not to worry but to trust in the God who makes all things possible. (That, by the way, is in an interesting set of non-stereotypical readings: Paul talking about works and Matthew about grace. Come back to an alumni event, and we can discuss it.)
For my part, I want to offer you a prayer that links Romans and Matthew, a prayer inspired by St. Francis of Assisi :
As you go forth may God grant you to be instruments of God's peace. Where there is hatred, may he let you sow love, where you find injury, may he make you an instrument of pardon, where doubt faith, despair hope, darkness light, sadness joy. May you seek not so much to be consoled as to console, to be forgiven as to forgive, to be loved as to love. And may God keep you mindful that it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, in giving that we receive and in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Go forth, then, with your well earned degrees in hand, and use them for the service of God, God's Church and God's world.