Last night I was privileged to attend a reception for the Doctor of Ministry students at McCormick. Even more privileged am I to be one of the people lucky enough to have attended this great Seminary. The ten doctoral graduates were given opportunity last evening to speak to the family, friends, faculty, and staff who had assembled in our honour.  One of the things that I shared was how wonderful I feel to have been a part of such a great program for the last three years. McCormick has structured a D. Min. program that is having a direct impact at the ground level in church communities.

As I celebrate this accomplishment today I do not do so alone. First of all, because McCormick’s ‘cross-cultural, urban reformed ecumenical’ approach is effective at impacting ministry at the grassroots of the parish, I celebrate today with a community of people at St. Mark’s by-the-Lake who have participated actively in my education. I also celebrate today with my friends and family who have been so very supportive over the past three years and indeed in my lifetime. It was so wonderful to have Helen, and Elaine and Jack, and James and Clara by my side last night. So pleased to have them with me knowing that with me in spirit are Gary, Robert and Jo-Anne, Lloyd and Jackie, and Darryl and Karen as well as the multitude of nieces and nephews that have sent well wishes. How fortunate I am to have friends who travelled from Windsor as well to be there last might. Over twenty people joined Catherinanne and me at the service and there will be twenty more added to that number today. I celebrate today with the staff and faculty of McCormick whose work and commitment to the church are gifts with which God is well pleased. I celebrate today with my wife Catherinanne. Without her unwavering commitment and support, advice and encouragement, I would not have finished this program. I celebrate today with my friends and colleagues in the Doctoral program. Rick, Cynthia and Julie are wonderful ministers whose work in this program is a gift to the church.

I celebrate today with Curious George who attended every class with me and is now decked out in academic dress ready for today’s march across the stage – many thanks to Major Sharron Young for the fantastic academic garb that he now wears. This silly little mascot has come to represent so much. A gift from Catherinanne when I went back to school, this monkey reminds me to not take myself too seriously. He reminds me to laugh. He reminds me that others who are not with me at all times who love me are always thinking of me and praying for me.  I celebrate today with mom who is unable to be here but who is so very proud of me. I celebrate today with my Dad who died in 2009 but lives yet in the lives of all that he impacted. I celebrate today with a lot of people and in so doing I celebrate with God. We are a great gift to each other. Perhaps these events serve to remind us that when we come together like we have this weekend, we are giving thanks to the Creator whose love has brought us into being and sewn us together as a people. I celebrate today with God.

Last night’s worship was awesome. Ted Hiebert’s sermon on Micah 6:8 was tremendous. The music was inspiring and the celebration of the Eucharist brought me to tears. Thank to McCormick for reminding us in worship last night what our joy today is really all about. Today will be a wonderful day — more than anything – today will be a day to give thanks to God for the many wonderful things that God has done! God has been so wonderfully present on the journey. Let us rejoice in that presence and that love and make a glad shout to God today in celebration of the many whose lives have been touched by this placed called McCormick Theological Seminary.