Thank you, graduates, for allowing this old angel, class of '04, to address you on graduation day. And I thank the president for granting me the degree of Doctor of Celestial Deeds (DCD). Think of it! I, Gabriel, a doctor!
Let me recall some of my big jobs, since I have been asked to share memories of my life with you. I was a Special Cosmic Messenger, delivering the Fear not! master message on at least three big occasions.
I head into Greene's Discount Beer, Wine and Liquor. A Salvation Army guy wearing a camouflage cap and jacket over blue dungarees and ringing a bell holds the door open for me. The multiple incongruities slip into my brain. I check; he has a Salvation Army name badge.
Inside, the cashier asks for my I.D., startling me. It's not my age -- 58 -- she wants, but verification of my credit card. I laugh and thank her for checking.
Are you looking for something special to lift your spirits this Christmas? What about a gift that can't be purchased? Namely, the gift of enthusiasm. The seed of genuine enthusiasm is God-given, lying deep within the soul of everyone. The emergence of enthusiasm depends on the maturity of one's walk and talk with God. The nature of enthusiasm (see your dictionary) is to be God-possessed and infused with new energy.
Recently I watched on television as President Bush signed the Aviation and Transportation Security Act, making airport security a direct federal responsibility. A week earlier, Congress seemed to be deadlocked regarding airport security, with neither party willing to compromise on their own strongly held positions. But, within days, the Senate and House had both agreed to a bill which the Senate passed without opposition and the House passed by a vote of 410 to 9.
In their proper place, I have long, and roundly, maintained a lowdown admiration for nice, big Presbyterian buts.To close and appreciative observers like me the fundaments of Reformed dogmatics are both ample and shapely with lots of wiggle room.Being generously endowed (and with intelligence, too), Presbyterians are aware that many theological affirmations are so complex the only proper response to them is, "yes, but...."
"Resolutions acknowledging the Catholic Church as part of the body of Christ, and calling for continuing study of those practices which first divided us were approved, as was a resolution of invitation to invite the U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to join in studies leading to possible future affirmation of one another's baptisms." -- 213th General Assembly News (June 13, 2001)