When I graduated from Princeton Seminary in May of 2005, the energy on campus was off the charts. Families and friends were gathering for all the usual graduation festivities, a couple close seminary friends were even getting married in the midst of it, and all my classmates and I were greatly anticipating the moment when we would receive our diplomas in Princeton’s historic chapel. Then, the day before graduation, I was caught completely off guard by what became the defining moment of my entire graduation experience: the Baccalaureate sermon by a favorite professor, Dr. Brian Blount.
Everyone piled into Nassau Presbyterian Church’s sanctuary for Baccalaureate, and I could not tell you a single detail of that worship service even if I tried, distracted as I was by all the excitement. But I do vividly remember being stopped in my tracks when Dr. Blount began preaching. Somehow, Dr. Blount found a way to tap me figuratively on the shoulder and convince me to shut up and listen! It was completely unexpected, and isn’t that the way God works much of the time?! When we least expect it, Jesus loves to call us, challenge us, haunt us, and surprise us with twists and turns that flip everything upside down.
In this stirring sermon entitled “Pick a Fight!,” Dr. Blount found creative ways to urge me not to be a timid theologian, but to be a “vexing visionary.” While sitting next to my family and future wife, hoping to impress them with the context of my past 3 years of hard work, Dr. Blount pulled no punches: “Make people nervous,” he preached, “Make people scared. Go out there and find the place or places where you know God wants you to pick a fight.” This was no run-of-the-mill Baccalaureate sermon, this was a call to action! He preached about how Christians like us have “grown so decent, so orderly, so pietistically prim and proper that we’ve forgotten how to fight.” And after a rousing conclusion, Dr. Blount reminded us again of the haunting and boundary-breaking nature of our Christian vocation, that “God doesn’t just fire you up to pick a fight with others; sometimes, to get you going, even when you think you’ve already been going as fast and as far as you can, God even picks a fight with you.” In case you cannot tell, “Pick a Fight!’’ is a sermon I’ll not soon forget. In fact, I read this timeless sermon every once in a while, because it always helps to wake me up and get my blood boiling again!
For these reasons and more, I am so very thrilled that our Adult Christian Nurture Committee is bringing Dr. Blount to our congregation this coming weekend! On Saturday morning (March 23), he will be lecturing in our Large Media Room from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 Noon, and did I mention that these are FREE lectures?! “The Cultural Interpretation of the Bible” is his title, and it is sure to be a stimulating morning (if possible, register here: www.fpcfw.org/speaker/). Also, Dr. Blount will be preaching on Sunday morning during our 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. worship services, which you do not want to miss! All in all, I sure hope you will take advantage of getting to spend time with Dr. Blount this weekend. This is a true opportunity, and I cannot emphasize enough what a renowned biblical scholar, thoughtful academic, down-to-earth theologian, profound professor, distinguished seminary president, and all-around good guy he is. Be there, or be square!
Keep on keeping on,