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The 2014 Co-Presidents Reflect

The commencement reflections of Co-Presidents of the Class of 2014, Laura Tancredi and Karen Sease, offer insights regarding campus life…

So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts to wisdom. (Psalm 90:12)

Karen — This verse from Psalm 90 is the inscription on the bell at the Krauth Memorial Library. We don’t know why this verse was chosen for the bell but we found it particularly apt for our commencement reflection. The Krauth Memorial Library has kept time on LTSP’s campus for 106 of our 150 year history. Those of us graduating have been here for the last several years. We’ve all had our own journeys – some have been longer than others – but we are all here together today to celebrate and remember all of the hard work and prayer that has brought us here. In our celebration, we remember all the many experiences we have shared together.

So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts to wisdom. (Psalm 90:12)

Laura — So when I first started, the bell didn’t exactly ring every hour. But it was always a helpful reminder at 1:57 that my 2:00 class was beginning soon. It sometimes served as a helpful reminder to our professors as well at 9:57 at night that it was time to wrap it up. But more seriously, the hours we’ve spent in the classroom at LTSP have been formative, challenging, and have made us the leaders the church needs for today. These hours have been part of the numbering of our days during our years at the seminary, and they will continue to stay with us in the ministry and mission that we undertake.

So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts to wisdom. (Psalm 90:12)

Karen — There were many times that I loved hearing the library bell chime during the day. But at night, the library bell could turn into an unwelcome reminder that I was not asleep yet. The classes that I enjoyed sitting in sometimes became the reason for my being up at all hours of the night. For many years, we have juggled coursework and all of our other responsibilities. For some this meant part time jobs while others worked full time and managed to sneak in a class here and there. Some of us could not begin studying until dinner was cooked and the kids were in bed. But somehow we all managed to make our studying time a priority.

So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts to wisdom. (Psalm 90:12)

Laura — For almost all of us, our time at seminary has seen major life events. There have been marriages, new relationships, babies born, and children graduating. Some of us have dealt with the deaths of loved ones and watched other relationships end. Through all of these changes, large and small, our psalm verse reminds us that we are not alone on the journey but that God’s hand guides us through all of our Christian life.

So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts to wisdom. (Psalm 90:12)

Karen — The chapel has its own way of keeping time in the life of the seminary. We all entered with opening worship at the beginning of the semester and our names were read out in prayer as we joined the community. Last night, our names were read once again in farewell as we take our leave for the ministry to which we have been called. And I don’t know if you’ve heard but the chapel has a bell of its own. No matter what time you were on campus during the day or in the evening, its regular rhythm of calling us to worship and to pray with one another has been a steady reminder of the God who calls and sustains us all.

So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts to wisdom. (Psalm 90:12)

Laura — When I arrived on campus, many things were unknown including who my future classmates would be and how we would get along. I’m sure many of us had similar feelings walking into rooms full of strangers. But as we look around today among the rows of graduates, the strangers now are friends and colleagues, partners in the ministry we share. Relationships that have been built through hours spent together in class and in fellowship will continue to grow and will be vital throughout our years of service. Although we may be going to different places and will be farther away from each other than we are used to, it is important to maintain these friendships as they will help to ground us and remind us of our callings.

Karen — Through going to class, studying, life events, chapel, and building friendships, God has taught us to number our days, so that we may apply our hearts to wisdom. As we leave LTSP, the library clock will no longer number our days. But that does not mean that the experiences and relationships we have made hear will be any less important in our lives. The times we’ve shared will give way to new methods of marking time – Christmas and Holy Week schedules, annual reports to the bishop, grant applications, council and vestry and board meetings. These will begin to be the pattern of our days. This is how it should be as we move on to careers in the church and at social ministry organizations. How we number our days will change but we must also hold on to the things we have learned in seminary.

Laura — We have learned many things both in and out of the classroom. They will be what we need when our work in our callings becomes difficult – because it will. As we all know, life will always have its challenges, and life as a public leader in and for the church is no different. The church may struggle with its finances; the social ministry organization might have to make cutbacks. You may begin to doubt your calling or wonder if what you do makes a difference. These are the times when we must draw upon the lessons and patterns of seminary. These are the times when we must rely upon each other and the friends and colleagues we have made here. We must reach out to each other in support, friendship, and love.

Karen — We remind each other that the work of the church does not depend ultimately on us but on God. It is God who created us and redeemed us through death on a cross that will sustain us and the church throughout our ministry. Because of that, we need not be afraid to try, to be creative in our work, and sometimes even to fail. We do not number our days in successes and failures, wins and losses, or according to any of the world’s standards. Instead we number our days according to God’s unending grace and mercy.

Laura — May God bless us as we go out from here.

Karen — May God continue to guide us in our callings.

Laura — May God sustain us in the work we will do.

Karen — May God remind us of everything we have learned at the seminary.

Laura — May God keep us grounded in our relationships with friends and family.

Karen — May God continue to uphold us with God’s own love in Christ Jesus.

Laura — And may God so teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts to wisdom.

Both – Amen.

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