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Baccalaureate speaker talks of Pentecost, new ideas

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Graduating from college on Pentecost Sunday adds a special significance to the day, the Rev. Barbara Lundblad told Augustana seniors at the college Baccalaureate service May 23.

Rev. Lundblad, who is the Joe R. Engle Professor of Preaching at Union Theological Seminary, said Pentecost is the third great festival of the church year. It commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles, described in the New Testament.

Jesus told the Apostles that "the Holy Spirit, who God will send in my name, will teach you everything," she said. In other words, despite following Jesus for three years, the Apostles didn't know everything yet.

"Jesus is saying the same thing to us," she told the seniors. "We don't know everything yet."

Through the "witness of the Spirit" people learn new ideas, she said, adding "often this will cause trouble, because everybody isn't ready for something new."

Those things include new ways of thinking about the church and its leaders and members. When Rev. Lundblad graduated from Augustana College in 1966, for example, women could not be ordained.

"The Spirit will teach us things that we cannot yet imagine," Rev. Lundblad said. "You'll be staring out into a future yet you can't imagine. I hope you'll always be open.

"You may forget that your graduation happened on May 23, 2010. I hope you never forget that you graduated on Pentecost," she told the seniors.

The annual service in Centennial Hall included readings from the New Testament, the Qur'an and the Hebrew Bible by seniors Emily K. Buffington of Naperville, Ill.; Isaak N. Daniels, Springfield, Ill.; Fareha A. Kazmi, Normal, Ill.; Leslie E. Knopoff, Elgin, Ill.; and Dana J. Swanson, Barrington, Ill.