christianSo the lasts have well and truly begun. Today was the last Presbyterian College chapel of this semester, and obviously for me as well. It was like a baccalaureate service, with the ‘graduating’ class given the opportunity to do the entire service. The graduating students led the prayer, hymns, bible reading, and two even shared a mini-sermon on the Presbyterian College motto. Then the principal, Dr. John Vissers, gave the ‘charge’ (a longer, call to persevere in the face of challenges in ministry, sermon).

The service was ok, pretty typical, and I did feel that having SAIACS graduating students do something similar may be a good idea. However, in the end, it was the after chapel programme that seemed ‘more’ meaningful.

The lunch ritual was followed by an opportunity for the non-graduating students and the faculty to say something for the graduating class. It was a little formal, initially, where the student council outgoing president and incoming present (both non-graduating) said a few words about the class and gave them a message.

After that, Principal Vissers lightened the mood with a funny projection of the students in 25 years. Then, the Director of Pastoral studies, Dr. Dale Woods did a powerpoint presentation featuring funny pictures of the graduating class, and also making fun of their earlier-stated views of ministry.

But the key point was that with the crescendo of humour, the mood suddenly changed (during the powerpoint) with a change in music. With worship music in the background, the laughter died down, replaced by a quiet nostalgia. You could feel the emotion run high in the group. The fun-laughter only helped bring out the true feelings of sadness at this “last”. Even I, who only was here for a year, could feel it.

In a way, that was a lesson in “presentation”… how to tweak an event to get the right “effect”. But at the same time, it was also a reminder that Presbyterian College is not unlike SAIACS; or probably other places we come to call home. The people we come to know, eventually (usually), become the ones we love, and when they leave, they become the ones we will miss.

(perhaps this is just a contextual reminiscence in light of SAIACS’ own graduation few days ago, but I guess it feels nice to feel this kind of connection even in a foreign land).