What would you say if you had one "last" opportunity to say it? A number of years ago, I saw a PBS program in which Carnegie Mellon University Professor Randy Pausch gave his "Last Lecture." Dr. Pausch gave an inspirational reflection and within a year he died of pancreatic cancer. He gave his "Last Lecture" knowing that his time was limited and wanting to make sure every word counted.
At Calvin Theological Seminary, we have introduced the opportunity of a "Last Lecture" for retiring teaching faculty. The circumstances are different than those faced by Dr. Pausch. Our "Last Lectures" tend to be a reflection and a refinement on what a professor has taught in their years of service as teachers of the church.
At Calvin Seminary, we were blessed on April 15, 2016 to gather and hear the "Last Lecture" of Professor Arie Leder. Dr. Leder began teaching at Calvin Seminary in 1987. He has taught for 29 years. How do you summarize 29 years of teaching in forty minutes? I invite you to listen and learn from the video below.
Attending these "Last Lectures" has been a spiritual exercise for me. I looked back at some of my old notes from when Professor Leder was my teacher for #115 -- The Pentateuch. He began the course with a lecture on the Biblical text and connected that to the image of friendship.
"What is a friend worth? How do you get to be a good friend?"
Professor Leder has a way of pausing on a word and making you really think about it. "How do you get to be a good friend?"
Since 1987, Professor Leder has stimulated and challenged the hearts and minds of students at Calvin Seminary with such questions.
At the close of the lecture, a brother of Arie, John Leder, stepped forward and reviewed more of Arie's family background and journey. We heard stories that illustrated God's provision and guiding hand.
The hour concluded with an announcement of a gift from the family and the Leder Charitable Foundation that forms the basis of The Arie and Olga Leder Chair in Bible and Missions. What an encouragement, and what a legacy!
The protocol contains these words:
The primary purpose of the The Arie and Olga Leder Chair in Bible and Missions is to strengthen the church of Jesus Christ and to advance the Kingdom of God through theological instruction at Calvin Theological Seminary in the field of Bible and Missions, with an emphasis on the Old Testament.
We are grateful for this Chair and for the "Last Lecture" that reminded us again on why being a "good friend" of the Scriptures is vital for living out faith - day by day.
P.S. Professor Arie and Olga Leder were very surprised by this announcement. After 29 years of speaking, it is nice to help set up a speechless moment!