There are No Solo Practitioners in the Kingdom of God

May 29, 2006

I receive mailings from ETSS as an entering student.  I really liked this sermon as it discusses the need for community and partnership in the church in a way that I think is very helpful. 

The Commencement Sermon by J. David Grizzle, member of the ETSS Board of Trustees and Senior Vice-president — Customer Experience — Continental Airlines, Houston, Texas — given at the 53rd Commencement of the Seminary of the Southwest at St. Matthew's Episcopal Church, Austin, Texas, on May 16, 2006

There are No Solo Practitioners in the Kingdom of God


Arriving from Lithonia, Georgia for my freshman year at Harvard in 1971, I felt that I was finally occupying the place for which I had been born, clinching the destiny for which I had been created; and I intended to put my full-blooded redneck trailer-trash roots behind me as fast and as fully as possible. I was a product of Harvard's enlightened affirmative action program, and humiliatingly, I had ridden three separate Greyhound busses 28 hours from Atlanta to Cambridge to start college because we couldn't afford the price of an airplane ticket. But every action I took after that bus ride confirmed to me that I was where I should be, doing what I should do, and that I could handle things on my on from this point forward. It was not until 30 years after my arrival in Cambridge that I began to learn the power of working with others as teammates. That's what the Bible readings for today are about and what I want to discuss with you this morning.

Winter came early my freshman year. I had seen ice and sleet in Georgia but never true snow, and it seemed fitting to me to celebrate its arrival by joining a group of other freshmen boys (and that's really all we were) on a march to Radcliffe — about a mile away, where all the girls were, to pelt them with snowballs. When we got to Radcliffe, because I had the loudest mouth, I started barking out instructions about how we were going to charge North House where there actually were a lot of girls apparently waiting to be charged. I thought I had made my plans perfectly clear and, more importantly, I perceived that all the other boys had acquiesced in them, when I yelled "Charge" and went running across the Quad. I assumed that on my heels were dozens of inspired followers. So confident of this was I that it never dawned on me to look back at my supporters until I was within pelting range of the girls.

Read it all.

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