Friday afternoon was Saint Paul's graduation ceremony and I was struck by overhearing several conversations. You would think that this being a seminary graduation, people would somehow be different, nicer, more appreciative - at least I thought that, but no. I know this time of year brings up a lot of graduation ceremonies - high schools and colleges nationwide have big ceremonies, and it seems like more and more younger kids are having graduations from kindergarten and elementary school (which I personaly think is ridiculous and only takes away the meaning for the later graduations!) and every ceremony is essentially the same. There's music, speakers, student in gowns and tassels, etc. Tex Sample was our speaker this year, and I was impressed with him, except that his message had little to do with graduation and was more of a promo spot for his workshop the next day on use of technology in worship (another blog entry another time).
What really amazed me was the demeanor of the crowd. People come hours before to get seats, and often save seats for other family members and friends - this is something we deal with every year and I remember this from other graduations as well. What killed me is that we had elderly people, many retired ministers or seminary professors, who were refused a seat on the main level so that people could save seats for their 30-something friends. I don't dare assume that everyone there was Christian, even though we are a Christian seminary, and I know that being Christian does NOT mean that you are nice and have a sense of compassion, but come on! Where is common human decency? If it's not in the church (using the term loosely) where should it be?!? I think a lot of my other issues with the church come out of this same idea - people not treating each other the way they would like to be treated. I know family wants to sit together and not everyone can arrive at the same time, but when things are getting full and someone with a walker is looking for a seat, it seems appropriate to tell the other members of your party that they were late enough that they will have to sit in the balcony section (rather than making the lady with the walker go up there). Am I wrong? Too idealistic? Putting too high expectations on people in general? (It wouldn't be the first time, and someday I hope people live up to them.)