Thursday, December 28, 2006

cheesy church slogans

As I’m walking outside of churches, I often marvel at the cheesiness of some of the slogans that are posted.

For example:
“CH_ _ RH – Q: What’s missing? A: UR!”

Or one I just saw:
“The baby Jesus was found in a one star motel”

I am setting out to find the cheesiest ones, so if you’ve seen some good ones send them to me at and I’ll post them.

Monday, December 25, 2006

the donkey dung manger

It may seem strange, but as I reflect on Christmas this year, I’ve been thinking about the donkey dung that surely surrounded the manger in which the baby Jesus laid.

Seminary has been a journey full of theological formation, and my Christmas theology has been no exception. In my Systematic Theology 1 course last semester, my professor Dr. Vitor Westelle was teaching on “revelation” and was discussing God’s revelation in unexpected ways. He pointed out: Who would have expected that the manifestation of the divine would be in a manger filled with donkey dung?! Only faith can see the Savior in the middle of a smelly manger.

Christ appeared in the smelly manger, into the rough city of Bethlehem, and into a harsh and struggling world. Sometimes I get caught up in the smelliness and harshness of the world today. I think of the War in Iraq, the genocide in Sudan, AIDS in Africa, and the homeless on the streets of Chicago. Although when I reflect on the smelly manger, I am filled with hope. This Christmas I reflect upon the grace of God, that like the little baby appearing in a smelly manger, still shows up today amidst the smelliest circumstances we could ever fathom. This grace may not appear where we would expect it, but it comes where we need it the most. May Christ’s Spirit bring you all the grace and peace of Christmas.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Ministry In Context

As a "middler," (or second year Master of Divinty student) at LSTC, I have a Field Education requirement called "Ministry In Context," which consists of ministry and pastoral observation for 7 hours a week in a local church, and a monthly class. My "MIC" church is St. Andrew Lutheran in West Chicago, IL, a western suburb of Chicago. St. Andrew suffered a fire to their church building a year and a half ago, and have been very resilient in the rebuilding process. Their concept of "church" being broader than the church building is particularly inspiring. St. Andrew now worships in a elementary school gym. They have worship in both Spanish and English, and another student and I have been primarily involved with the Spanish speaking worshiping community. We help with the weekly first communion classes. I help playing guitar for worship. We will also have opportunities to preach and assist in worship. This hands-on ministry experience has allowed me to put to practice what I'm learning in the classroom. It has been great for my pastoral formation, and is affirming my call to ministry in the Latino context.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Sigh of Relief

The end of the semester was a bit stressful as I attempted (successfully) to write a 30 page paper on Max Weber, Ernst Troeltsch, and Martin Luther, give a presentation on Identified Relgious Leaders and how to handle personal crisis, and write a 15 pager on my theological model of ministry. I must say it was a long couple weeks.

Well, the semester is now over! (sigh of relief) That means a bit more sleep, getting to the list of books that people have suggested I read, and enjoying the pleasures of Smallville: Season 5 on DVD. The Christmas music has begun to play on my iPod and over streaming radio. I am looking forward to the break ahead of me and enjoying the company I will have.

I have been so focused on my projects for the end of the semester that I feel like I have missed the coming of Advent. There are still a few weeks left to prepare for the coming of the Christ-child. These weeks go by so quickly, that it is so easy to get caught up in the immediate duties that HAVE to be done that I forget to pay attention to the great opportunities for growth that this time of year brings with it.

May you have a blessed Advent and a Holy Christmas,


Sunday, December 03, 2006


It's finals week here at the seminary. I really can't believe it. So much has happened in the past few months! Part of me feels like they flew by; other parts of me feel like it's been forever!! We have learned so much, especially us first-years. We've moved to Chicago; we've made new friends (and kept in touch with old ones); we've experienced seminary classes and gotten to know professors; we've felt the Midwestern climate - 60 degrees one day and 30 the next! We've gotten settled into our new routines (finally!).

I can't wait to have these papers and finals done, and enjoy the holiday season, and reflect some more on my first semester of seminary. And I'm already excited for what's next - a J-Term in Geneva, Switzerland, and 4 new classes in the Spring Semester!

Post Party Depression

Well, we had our big Advent Party. There was plenty of food and eggnog for everyone. My roommates and I call it our party ministry. Sometimes we think that we get so carried away with school and getting everything done that we forget to celebrate with people. It was nice to sit around and laugh, to invite people into our home. There is something very important about going to someone's home. I think you learn more about a person when you go to his or her home than any other way.

This is us just before the party began. I am the one NOT in Red. Everyone was supposed to bring something from his or her Christmas tradition. So we had Swedish Pastry and a German cake and Spiced Tea and wood carvings and Japanese paper angels and a Christmas CD of the concert at Luther a few years back. It was nice to share those things. I think it is important to have traditions and I enjoyed getting to know my classmates in that way. One thing is sure, even though it is a lot of work and comes at a really bad time in the semester, next year I'll have an Advent Party again.