Dr. David R. Denny
From the Schoolhouse
I stood at the door of my 2B class wondering if I had made a mistake. After all, I had not seen my students in two weeks, and I did have the “rocket” stuck in my nose. (The rocket was an inflated tube the emergency room placed in my nose to stop the bleeding until I could get to the ENT. Kids can be brutal at times). The hall was still empty, but it was 9:00 am and I knew they would be here in a few minutes. I checked my watch again and wondered if there was time to bolt for the back door and not risk a slow death at the hands of ravenous middle schoolers.
Too late! The bell rang, and they were coming. I stood my ground, helplessly. But then a magical thing happened. A group of five girls saw me and stopped for a second, their hands over open mouths. Then they rushed closer asking if I was all right. They each hugged me and I tried to reassure them that I would be fine in a few days after surgery. After several minutes of lingering protectively near me, they ambled off reassured. I noted that some of these very girls had been disciplined by me on several occasions during the year for talking etc during class time. But none of that seemed to matter to them now. Now they saw me merely as a friend, a friend in some kind of dire straits.
As they wandered off, I realized that their education had moved beyond merely memorizing certain facts about a subject. Now they were young women reacting maturely and with sensitivity to life itself. And I felt proud of them and reassured that a new generation of young adults was on the rise in America.
From the Pulpit
Since I wasn’t at church Sunday, I will take you back to my old seminary days when I was just an aspiring minister with no experience. I was attending the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, the second oldest seminary of the Southern Baptist Convention founded in 1917. It is a beautiful campus of over 75 acres. Originally this site was an old pecan orchard and even today the campus has old time trees with thick-barked branches that hang heavily with a gravitas unique to the deep South.
I had signed up for a public speaking course. This had not been my choice. Greek, Hebrew, history were my preferences, but public speaking was a pretty basic requirement for budding ministers. I knew all along that I would eventually have to stand in front of the other 25 young preachers-to-be, but I tried to dismiss the notion since I lacked any confidence in this domain.
I remember so vividly the day my name was called in class to come forward and preach for a minimum of 15 minutes. Stars fluttered in my brain. My knees shook without control. My voice trembled and squeaked. Time seemed suspended as I trudged slowly through muddled sermonic points. Finally, the 15 minute bell rang and I collapsed, exhausted in my student seat and waited for the public ravaging that always followed the class trial sermon…
From the Pews
I had to miss Sunday, but the pews were not silent. As Sandy Kennedy said in her email to me, “We have so much talent in our small church.” She was referring to several members that rose up and filled in for me. As I understand it, Mark Mize and Tommy Hines played this role Sunday. It was a lot to ask of these men to stand up on short notice and offer spiritual insights to the congregation. But from the comments I received, they did just that. I want to thank them and all others who helped in my absence.