Erskine’s baccalaureate ceremony, a service of worship in preparation for commencement exercises May 8, was conducted under the towers of the Erskine Building Friday, May 7. Graduating seniors and their families, along with members of the faculty and staff, took their places beneath the trees for the early evening event.
The baccalaureate speaker was the Rev. Dr. Matthew Miller, City Director of the C.S. Lewis Institute in Greenville, S.C., and former senior minister of Greenville ARP Church. Miller, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom, is a graduate of Reformed Theological Seminary and holds Master of Theology and Doctor of Ministry degrees from Erskine Theological Seminary.
In an address entitled “Discovering and Displaying the Reality of Life Together in Christ,” focusing on Romans 12 , Miller explored the implications for relationship among Christians who are united to Jesus Christ “by grace through faith.”
The speaker recounted a 2017 news item about two friends in Hawaii who discovered only late in life that they were actually brothers. Just as the brothers’ story illustrates “a relationship that almost never became what it was created to be,” Paul’s concern for the Christians in Rome is that “they are in danger of never experiencing the reality of who they are in Christ,” Miller said.
In Romans 12:1, Paul urges the Christians to “present your bodies as a living sacrifice.” Citing a lecture by New Testament scholar Dr. T. David Gordon, Miller noted that this verse begins with the plural—“your bodies”—and ends with a singular—“as a living sacrifice.”
“That’s how it is in the Greek,” Miller said of the verse. “The idea seems to be that it’s not me offering my life as a solo sacrifice, and you offering your life as a solo sacrifice, but us, as the body of Christ, members of one of another, offering our life together as a sacrifice.”
This sacrifice “is the way we love one another, honor one another, care for one another, provide for one another, and, as Paul puts it in Romans 15:7, ‘welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God,’” Miller said. “That’s the sacrifice, the offering that he finds acceptable and holy, and receives as our spiritual worship. And would we really want to aim for anything less?”
Concluding his address, Miller said we bring glory to God as we “discover the bonds we have in Christ and display those bonds as a living sacrifice.”
Erskine President Dr. Robert Gustafson offered welcoming remarks and introduced the speaker; the Rev. Scott Moore, pastor of the Due West ARP Church, gave the call to worship; the Rev. Joshua Chiles, Erskine’s chaplain, offered an invocation; and Provost of the College Dr. Thomas Hellams offered a prayer of intercession for the graduates.
Music was provided by the Erskine College Choraleers, directed by Dr. Keith Timms; Dr. Deborah Caldwell, trumpet; freshman Sharon George, violin; Prof. Sharalynn Hicks, piano; and junior Samuel Tam, cello. Student marshals assisted with the service.
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