The December graduates of Samford University's Beeson Divinity School were urged to not worry about getting their hands dirty as they seek to "touch the world," during Commencement exercises Wednesday, Dec. 2.
"As ministers of the Gospel, you have been called out into a sin-stained and hurting world, and you must get your hands dirty," said guest speaker Danny Wood, senior pastor of Birmingham's Shades Mountain Baptist Church.
Despite today's fears of "going anywhere and touching anything" without a supply of hand sanitizer, Wood told the graduates that touching the world could mean crossing the ocean or ministering in their city's downtown area.
In their own church field, they will see people struggling with family issues, financial problems and failing health, he said.
"You've not been provided this education to sit in your offices and watch the hurting from afar," said Wood, who earned a doctor of ministry degree at Beeson in 1999.
"You must follow Jesus' example and get your hands dirty," he said, referencing the pool of Bethesda, where Jesus made a point to minister to lame, blind and paralyzed persons.
"It was a sad sight of suffering humanity, but Jesus chose to go there and get his hands dirty," said Wood, recounting the passage in John chapter 5 in which Jesus assisted a helpless and hopeless man.
Wood suggested that at the end of each day, the graduates wash their hands as a reminder to keep their own bodies and hearts pure and clean.
The Beeson commencement program included a time of consecration in which each graduate received a hands-on blessing from each Beeson faculty member.
"Beeson Divinity School is a place of faith and learning," said Beeson dean Dr. Timothy George. "One of these dimensions without the other is incomplete for those preparing to serve the Lord."
The mid-year graduation roster included one Master of Theological Studies degree recipient, 13 Master of Divinity degree recipients, and 7 Doctor of Ministry degree recipients.
In addition to their diploma, each new Beeson graduate traditionally receives a copy of the Holy Scriptures with their name imprinted.
This year, courtesy of the guest speaker, each one also received a bottle of hand sanitizer with a special cover labeled "Have You Touched the World Today?"