Comings and Goings is a blog written by Theology, Worship and Education Director Charles B. "Chip" Hardwick as he travels throughout the church. God is on the move out and about in the world, working to redeem all things in Jesus Christ. As we join this mission, by the power of the Spirit we see God on the move. This blog contains glimpses of how Chip finds this to be true in his comings and goings.
You can follow Chip on twitter (@chiphardwick) or find him on Facebook (Chip Hardwick).
This past week I have been in Princeton, NJ, for alumni reunion events and the inauguration of Princeton Theological Seminary's new president, M. Craig Barnes. It was a week full of interesting lectures by Robert Wuthnow, Elsie McKee, and Bob Dykstra, of connecting with folks from the seminary and the denomination, and of worshiping Christ in powerful ways at both the seminary and university chapels.
I was struck by two of the charges given during my time in Princeton. The first was a charge by President Barnes to the faculty who have been recently promoted or hired. One of the highlights of that service was when the newly promoted faculty sign the book which has the signatures of professors and trustees since the early 1800s. In his charge, Dr. Barnes reminded them that the book, while impressive, is not the Lamb’s Book of Life—that their names are already inscribed there, because Jesus has loved them at great cost, and they have responded to that love. Out of gratitude for, and because of, that love, he said, the faculty’s call was to love the students so that they would love Jesus more.
It was very consistent with the work of the Office of Theology and Worship on grace and gratitude—that we love because Christ first loved us...and when we realize what God has done for us in Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit, gratitude is the best and most faithful response. Theologian Karl Barth said that grace and gratitude go together like thunder and lightning, heaven and earth, a voice and an echo, and Mumford and Sons. (well, maybe not the last one, but you get the idea.)
At President Barnes’ inauguration, the chairman of the board, Bill Robinson (president emeritus of Whitworth University) gave a charge to the new president (pictured at left). During this charge, he challenged him to be “the best Craig Barnes he could be, because the best Craig Barnes is the best he can give.” It made me think about this in light of the charge that Barnes himself had given to the faculty.
The best of any of us is when we live our lives in utter gratitude for the grace given to us in Jesus Christ. When we act out of a sense of duty, we can make progress toward a goal, but often without much joy. When we act out of guilt or fear, we can move forward but often with resentment or trepidation. Even faithful obedience does not give us the best version of ourselves, or the most abundant life. When we are filled with gratitude, however, we rest in what God has done for us, and we reach out to serve others in Christ’s name.
Please join me in praying for Craig Barnes, and for the Princeton Seminary Community, that the campus would be a place filled with grace and gratitude, drawing out the best of each individual God has called there.