Every year, a graduate from each degree program is selected by their peers and faculty to speak at Commencement around a particular theme. This year, the speakers chose the theme “Crossings.” Below is the speech shared by David Jaeger, an MDiv graduate.
Missouri turned into Kansas. Kansas turned into Colorado. Colorado into Wyoming, into Utah into Idaho and Oregon, and finally, Washington.
In all, I had crossed seven state lines on my way to Seattle four years ago. I’m sure this is a familiar story to many of you, packing up everything you own in your car and driving across the country, compelled by some unknown force beckoning you forward. But state lines, as you also know, are just the first of many boundaries and borders we crossed when we began our lives as part of The Seattle School Community.
In fact, this is how I’ve begun to think of our time here—we are border-crossers. Some of us crossed borders by beginning to ask questions we either weren’t allowed to ask or were too afraid to ask in the past. They were questions about our faith, our relationships, our culture, and ourselves.
And of course, there is the very real threshold that we all crossed as we entered into our practicum rooms and exited two hours later into a new world of, well…something or another. I don’t think it would be a stretch to say that all of us crossed the borders from the known pieces of our stories and into unknown and scary territory where nothing seems to makes sense anymore.
In our years here, we have moved across all kinds of threshold—big and small alike—and here we are today, ready to do so once more, unsure what exactly is on the other side.
And that’s the first principle of crossing borders—you never know what you’re going to find on the other side. I know I didn’t expect to be on the exact path I find myself on now. And that, maybe, is what has made this place so strange—so life-giving and terrifying—and it may even be what has shaped us into such a strong community of people. We have willingly ventured into the unknown, and we have done it together.
We are border-crossers.
Looking back now, I’m sometimes surprised I ever left my home of Kansas City to begin with. But I also shouldn’t be thatsurprised. You see, God calls us to cross borders. It’s all over the scriptures. If we think of ourselves as explorers or as border-crossers, then we are in good company.
Most of all, I think God calls us to cross boundaries that only love can cross. That, of course, is what Jesus is found doing in Luke 10:13-17. Jesus crosses the social, political, and religious borders and boundaries that exist to keep people separate from one another. By crossing borders, Jesus brings about new possibility and new life. This is what I’ve been learning during my time here—this is who I’ve been learning to be—someone who is compelled by love to cross borders on behalf of others.
And this is what I think we are called to do as well—we are called, out of love for others, to cross the borders that the world says must not be crossed. Some of us will do so as counselors, some as pastors, and some as cultural and theological leaders.
So, to those of you I know well and those I don’t know at all, may love—the real, true, active and self-giving love of God that captures us, compels us, comforts us, and empowers us, the love that caused us to do such a crazy thing as cross the threshold into this community—may that love both keep you and drive you forward to always cross boundaries for the lives of those all around us.
May you, my fellow border-crossers, be blessed.