The gold is even greater now
Those who know me know Rev. Dr. Robert Neville, the Dean of Boston University’s School of Theology when I attended seminary. You know him because he’s a part of me. This professor still teaches me. This man of God still inspires me. This impeccably well-read sage still challenges me to bring my A Game not just to the writings I share here with you, but also to the pulpit each time, every time.
We all have a “Someone”— that person who just finds you, sees you, coaches you and guides you only to, at some point, release you not to yourself and who you were, but to lift you to all you can be. That Someone for me is Dean Neville.
I snuck away to Boston a few days ago and, by appointment, met Dean Neville in his office on the third floor of the theology building that to many may be classrooms, offices and hallways, but to me is holy ground. I was a rough farm kid when I entered seminary, a bold boy who thought he knew of a pastoral presence, but this all changed, morphed, and refined itself in three years. Dean Neville was one of a team of professors who did what education should do: he taught me to think beyond the classroom, the reading materials, and the exams. He taught me to see. He taught me to think. He taught me to use the text of God to move people. Along with other faculty I admire, he taught me to see head on what the world needs so desperately, a voice from the darkness that leads to light and to love.
We sat in his office and did something I never thought at one point would be even possible—we talked. We talked about trends and philosophies, epistemology, ecclesiology, Christology, schools of differing thought, politics and policies, symbols of the modern age, the indwelling Spirit in churches shifting in this postmodern age, and of our God still speaking life, joy, and wisdom into the world. We even talked about our books in detail. He has at least dozen. I have some catching up to do.
Each of us has experienced a kind of heaven on earth. Maybe it was your holding a child or a grandchild for the first time. Amen to this! Maybe it was seeing a particularly spectacular landscape, a piece of art, or an ocean scene with your toes wet in the sand. Amen to this! For me, a part of heaven was seen and felt in Room 334 on 745 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, on Tuesday morning, June 20, 2017.
I know firsthand that life can be hell and life can be hard, so very hard. I also know that when we reach for God with others and through others, we will find Him.
Find or revisit your Dean Neville. When you do, you’ll have tears of gratitude in your eyes as I do in mine. Our God is good. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him…” Romans 8:28a.