I am so incredibly thankful for the Lutheran Campus Ministry at the University of South Carolina and how they have helped me see the vital role of an active community in preaching. You see, my STM thesis is on a model of preaching that incorporates spoken word poetry and conversation within the liturgy. It hardly looks like sermons common to the 20th century, but it has been an experiment in how a flattened hierarchy allows everyone within the priesthood of all believers to take an active role within liturgical proclamation.
And these people just rock my socks off with insight. Each week at our Lenten services, we talk of how God's love meets us in the everyday journey, in the heights of ecstasy, and in the depths of grief. Each week, this kind of preaching model is affirmed not because I am it's author, but because the allotted space allows for a dynamic conversation that reveals a vitality of faith impossible without multiple voices speaking perspectively on the presence of God in our lives.
One young woman in particular offered an invaluable insight a few weeks ago. As we talked about the concept and content of love, one student raised up the reality that love requires negotiation. In response, I queried, "I don't understand when people say that love doesn't compromise, because as you just said, love requires us to compromise." After a brief silence, this remarkable young woman remarked, "Perhaps that's just it. Love is the uncompromising principle that allows us to compromise in our relationships. Without love, compromise is impossible."
I was, and am, blown away. Without her perspective, this never would have made it into the conversation. Even more importantly, she shared this from the perspective of a senior who faces the unknowns of the future, from a place where love is a daily requisite in order to make it through the day. Even if I had said it, her voice and experience brought a meaning to the content that I simply could not have brought.
So, I am thankful for them, not only because they have allowed me a place to put my thesis into practice, and not only because they have welcomed me as a mentor and friend in these past few months, but because they have taught me so much. They have become my mentors in faith, my friends in Christ, and for that, I am forever thankful.