Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Nine Hours

In nine hours' time, it will be over.

Grow old along with me!
The best is yet to be:
The last of life for which the first was made.
Our times are in His hands
Who saith, "A whole I planned –
Youth shows but half; trust God, see all, nor be afraid!"

Those lines from Robert Browning's Rabbi ben Ezra are peculiarly apt as we bring the curtain down on the inaugural, premier, gala, all-entertainment, highly dramatic show that some think of as a circus, an carnival, an extravaganza nonpareil. It was the First, and as with other firsts, it is the only such; there is none other and never will be again.

Tonight, I am honoured and humbled to have many services to perform at the ending of this marvelous run. In the words of John Wesley, though, there are "...many services to be done. Some are more easy and honourable, others more difficult and lacking in grace: some are suitable to our inclinations and interests, others are contrary to both." But I have known them all, and in the end, I acquiesce and turn my face toward the end.

It would not be right to leave the First without a word from our eternal and almighty Sponsor, He who justifies and establishes the works of our hands. And it would not be right to spend too much time at the party proselytizing while the grace of heaven goes cold on our plates. So here are things which must be said to those who would be scholars, leaders and global citizens:

This is what the LORD says: "Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight, declares the LORD."
Jeremiah 9:23-24

For it is my hope, my frequent prayer, that our scholars will gain knowledge touched with wisdom and kindness; that our leaders will gain strength tempered with discipline and justice; and that our global citizens will gain wealth and experience to be used in righteous service. This is not a lofty and distant ideal, but a practical (though grand) endeavour. The First can do it: I have seen you in your work and at your play; in your unguarded and silly moments, and in the height of your disciplined and intelligent excellence. Where will and power are one, so let it be; we can ask no more than this.

And in nine hours' time, we are sundered and you are cast forth into the world as salt.

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