The eighteenth commencement service of Mid-America Reformed Seminary was held on May 16, with graduates Christian McShaffrey and Lawrens Slagter receiving Masters of Divinity degrees. The service was held in the new facility of Community URC in Schererville, Indiana, the church Mr. Slagter attended during his years at Mid-America. Mr. McShaffrey’s pastor, Rev. Bruce Hollister, of New Covenant Community Orthodox Presbyterian Church in New Lenox, Illinois, was the commencement speaker.
Rev. Hollister spoke on “Christ’s Strength Made Perfect in Weakness” from II Corinthians 11:30–12:10. He challenged the audience to remember: “None is too weak to be of service to Christ, but many are too strong to be of any significant use to Him.” He spoke about the “divine gem” of the power of Christ that is manifest in its “proper setting” of our weakness and frailty. He reminded the graduates that ministry begins in “weakness and humiliation.”
“There is a great and natural temp-tation-an inevitable propensity-to become proud, to exalt oneself, to think oneself ‘sufficient’ unless one is preserved by Christ, graced with a perpetual and acute sense of one’s own weakness and frailty,” said Rev. Hollister. He emphasized the severity of Paul’s thorn in the flesh by calling it a “stake in the flesh” and noted its nature is intentionally undefined so that it serves as a “type” for every Christian’s trial. He concluded: “How blessed is the strong man that has become a weak man, that he might be strong in Christ!”
Rev. Alan Strange, Associate Professor of Church History and Theological Librarian Registrar, presented the charge to the graduating seniors. He spoke of a “spiritual call to arms” as the men enter the great spiritual fray, won by our Lord Jesus Christ, of which we are all engaged in “divine mop-up operations.”
From the final verses of Isaiah 40, Rev. Strange demonstrated how “waiting on the Lord is the way that we wage kingdom warfare.” This requires “patience with the slowness of sanctification” in our lives as well as the lives of others. It means “openness to God, His Word, His world” as we refrain from rushed judgments and rest in Him. We need to wait on the Lord because we are weak and only He “gives power to the weak” (v. 29). We wait by “meditating on the Word, spending much time in secret prayer, and delighting in Him in spiritual communion.”
Board member Doug Allen presented diplomas to the graduates.
“Graduations are wonderful times to look back and see the way God’s grace has worked in the lives of our students,” says Seminary President Dr. Cornel Venema, “and to look forward eagerly to the way in which He will be pleased to use our students in His service and for the benefit of His people.”