Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Academic Regalia & Robes

Today for the second last time, I shall be putting on my academic gowns. It's photo-taking day here at College. I attended my LLB graduation in Christchurch with full academic regalia but for my theological degrees, I have not bothered with them much as far as ceremonies or graduations were concerned. As soon as the exams finished at the end of 1994, I went back to Malaysia and began serving. I missed the May graduation in Auckland the following year.
Likewise I graduated in absentia for my doctoral degree at Otago University in 2003. I was already into my 8th month as pastor. My father offered to pay for my return tickets to attend the graduation in New Zealand. Of course I turned down the offer and it was somewhat embarrassing for a PhD holder who could not afford to attend his own graduation. My study of theology was to fulfill a calling and not for career advancement. I did not enter straight into a cosy lectureship but accepted a call to pastor my home-church with about half the salary of what I would get elsewhere in a seminary. At the end, due to persistent pleas from my father as he asked for a photo of his son with the doctoral regalia and thus I relented and had the doctoral gown, hood and cap tailored in New Zealand and sent to me in Malaysia. Again, my father paid for the regalia which cost heaps. Whether one is robed with academic gowns is not important, sometimes it is not helpful as it can engender pride with all the pomp and glory which is of this world, but what is important and absolutely essential is that we are robed with Christ's righteousness and clothed with the mantle of Elijah, even a double portion of God's Spirit, his anointing on our lives and ministries as we seek to glorify Him and not ourselves.

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