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Duke Senior’s Sermon Feb. 23 to Find Equality Before God

This year’s Duke Chapel Student Preacher, Liddy Grantland, will reflect on what happens when people come down from mountain-top heights

Liddy Grantland, pictured in Duke Chapel
Duke senior Liddy Grantland will preach in Duke Chapel Feb. 23

Duke senior Liddy Grantland, who is this year’s Duke Chapel Student Preacher, will deliver a sermon in the chapel on Sunday, Feb. 23.

A double major in English and African & African American Studies from Columbia, South Carolina, Grantland will preach during the chapel’s 11 a.m. worship service.

Her sermon is based on the verses of the Gospel of Matthew that describes Jesus ascending a mountain with three of his disciples and then being transfigured with light. A key passage for Grantland is when the voice of God interrupts the disciple Peter when Peter is proposing to build dwellings on top of the mountain.

“God is countering our instincts to put ourselves above other people—and the way that that interacts with a whole host of oppressive structures that seek for one person to be higher than another,” said Grantland, a Chapel Scholar and member of the Chapel’s National Advisory Board as well as the Duke Wesley campus ministry and the United in Praise student gospel group.

“You are supposed to [come down from the mountain] and live among other people on even ground,” she said.

As part of the Sunday morning worship service, Duke will broadcast the sermon live on YouTube, WDNC Radio (620 AM), channel 12 on the Duke Hospital TV system and channel 110 of the Duke Campus Vision TV system.

In writing the sermon, Grantland said she shared a first draft with a friend who encouraged her to share more of herself in it. With that advice in mind, she consulted with Duke Wesley Campus Minister Rev. David Allen and included more personal reflections in her second draft, including how her experience with chronic pain relates to the scripture text.

“The second time writing it felt so much more connected,” she said.

For Grantland the process of writing the sermon, which includes coaching from Chapel ministers and Divinity School faculty, fits into her overall Duke experience.

“Both class and Religious Life -- and everything I have experienced at Duke thus far -- have made me a more empathetic person, a person who can pay more attention to people and to structures and to pain in the world,” said Grantland, who has done research on the chapel’s digital sermon archive through Story+ and Bass Connections projects.

“All of these experiences have made me more open, more generous with my imagination and more ready and willing to think about what’s hard about the world -- and what to say or do about it,” she said.