The party’s over…

Photo by Mari Clements…either that, or it’s just beginning.  Time will tell.

As mentioned in a previous post, last week marked the celebration of an institutional milestone in the history of Fuller Theological Seminary–the 50th anniversary of the founding of its Graduate School of Psychology.  Indeed, it was four events rolled into one: the school’s 50th anniversary; the 25th anniversary of the Travis Research Institute; the annual Integration Lectures, this year featuring Richard Beck from Abilene Christian University; and a fond farewell to Winston Gooden, the retiring dean who has ministered to us for nearly 15 years.

The celebration, appropriately, was marked by worship, both in Wednesday chapel and an inspiring Thursday evening sermon by seminary president Mark Labberton (I’ll post a reflection on his message in the coming week).

The events culminated on Saturday night with a wonderfully creative blast from the past.  For each decade of the school’s history, from the 1960s on, a separate mini-museum was created, displaying not only decade-specific photos of alumni and faculty, but appropriate pop-culture memorabilia.  To both my delight and dismay, I found myself occasionally taking the role of docent for my twenty-something-year-old students, explaining such diverse artifacts as 8-track tapes, The Partridge Family, and Kodachrome.  Some of the men of my generation shared a passing moment of true confession: which of us, in our adolescent years, actually had that iconic poster of Farrah Fawcett hanging in his room?  (For the record, I did not: mine was another iconic image, the final sepia-toned frame of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.)  Even the food was themed, as guests passed from room to room, snacking on trendy items of the past and present such as deviled eggs, buffalo wings, and sushi.

The evening ended with a tribute to Dean Gooden — who had no idea what was about to happen.  His family told us things about him that most of us had never heard, many of which only deepened my respect for his character and ministry.  In-person and video tributes lavished gratitude on Winston, who received the praise humbly and reluctantly.

All in all, I felt tremendously blessed by the reminder of what God has done in and through the school, and look forward to the future.  I am grateful for our leadership, grateful for my faculty colleagues, grateful for our students, and grateful for the gifted and hard-working staff without whom none of this could have been accomplished.

And I am grateful that I don’t have to get up in the morning thinking like Eeyore: Oh bother, guess I have to go to work now.  There may be those days.  But if nothing else, celebrations like these serve as markers, reference points for the imagination, reasons to widen my angle of vision enough to say, Look what I get to be part of!

Praise be to God, for that is a central truth of the Christian life.  Every act of worship can renew our gratitude and vision: Look what we get to be part of! 

Can you imagine it?