Clark uses John 4 and a recent film to emphasize the importance of honoring others
Chapman “Chap” Clark, vice provost for master’s programs and professor of youth, family, and culture delivered a message entitled “Her Name is Precious” in the first all-seminary chapel of the winter quarter on Wednesday, January 6.
Clark spoke about the film Precious, a story about a Harlem teenager who has suffered horrific abuse, which has haunted him since viewing it at the Sundance Film Festival last year. Clark pointed out that the film becomes a beautiful story of redemption because somebody cared for the title character, and reminded his listeners, “There’s a Precious on every street corner, in every class, in Travis Auditorium, on faculty and on staff.”
Turning to the selected passage of John 4, the story of the woman at the well, Clark confessed that the text, like the film Precious, haunts him. Bemoaning the “sterilization of the text,” Clark remarked that most of the time, “we see it, read it, and comment on it as if it’s a screenplay and just words on a page.”
Clark emphasized the radical nature of Jesus’s ministry in the story when he pointed out that Jesus broke convention and perhaps even the law by being with the Samaritan woman and speaking to her. “What I love about this story,” he shared, “is how Jesus honored this woman in a way no one else honored her.” Jesus entered into her story, built a relationship with her, and “led her on a journey of intimacy that is rare even today.”
Noting that the text is not limited to Samaritans or specific minorities and social classes, Clark broadened the application of his message. “God has a whole other agenda than the one I grab onto,” he said. “That is coming alongside those he loves, entering their story, and learning how to see.”
“Who is the Precious in your life?” Clark asked. “Who have you passed by or failed to see?” He challenged the group to take a minute to think of a person who fit that description, and to see the start of a new year as the “opportune moment to realize that one is named ‘Precious.’”
Closing his talk, Clark emphasized Fuller’s commitment to engaging the world and the importance of keeping that commitment the focus of all we do at the seminary. He concluded with an exhortation to the faculty, students, and staff in attendance: “Never forget in every class you teach, every paper you write, and every meeting you have, we are called to listen to, enter into the story of, and love Precious. Because they’re all Precious!”