Monday, October 20, 2008

“Never forget what you learned here.”

Transitions. Life has been full of transitions. My mind is still full of images from internship. As I was standing in the bus terminal in Resistencia, Argentina, I remember saying goodbye to my pastor-supervisor and several members of the congregation. All of a sudden the deafening sound of 30 children screaming filled the terminal. The children we worked with at the church mission had come to say goodbye, chanting things like “Don't leave.” It was hard to leave them. Many of them have very rough home lives, and they don't always know where their next meal will come from. I also recalled a church member who I had gotten particularly close with and had been going through two deaths in her family. At my last meeting with the internship/lay committee she looked over to me with tears in her eyes and said, “Never forget what you learned here.” Indeed I carry with me the stories, the struggles and joys of the people at both churches in Argentina who taught me so much about life and ministry.

One 12-hour flight later my goodbyes quickly turned into hellos. Being reunited with family, friends and classmates. The transition did not feel subtle. It feels as though you reach a certain flow in doing ministry every day, and then you go right back to the classroom. Despite the abrupt transition, it has been good to have a space to reflect on my internship. I continue to learn the importance of praxis, of action/reflection. In my Constructive Theology course, we are talking a lot about the context of our internship site. I learned a lot about the importance of context in ministry last year. Being in a new country, with a different dialect of Spanish and a history that was new to me, I found that knowing the context was particularly important. It was through talking with people about the day to day struggles and joys and learning about the history that allowed ministry to be more effective and relevant.

I have talked to other senior year students who are also coming off of a year-long internship, and there is a great variety of experiences. I enjoy seeing the ways they've grown over the year, and the insights they bring to the classroom. During the senior year we go through the “Approval” process, which is last step before “Assignment” in the ELCA Candidacy Process ( I have completed my “Senior Interview” with the seminary faculty and in December I will have my Approval Panel interview with my home Synod.

Right now I'm at the in-between place. I continue to take classes and enter back into this seminary community. As I am in this place, I am looking ahead towards a future vocation in the Church with the words still ringing in my ears “Never forget what you learned here.”

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Ministry in Context: Learning to Lead by Learning to Follow

What is seminary really like?? Well, I can’t speak for everyone but if I had one word to describe how my second year of seminary is going, the word is CRAZY!! Life right now is crazy-awesome and crazy-busy. My feeling of awesomeness and busyness often stems from my experience of Ministry in Context (MIC) this year. What is Ministry in context, well I am glad you asked. Ministry in Context is basically a ‘teaching parish’ experience. MIC is designed to help prepare me for internship next year. I spend about 7 hours/week participating in the congregational life of Bethany Evangelical Lutheran Church, on the southside of Chicago. Bethany is predominately a Black, African American church. Worship life is always filled with praise, prayer and the Holy Spirit. Bethany’s awesome Gospel choir has a way of penetrating the soul that gets me clapping and moving. It has been a refreshing and freeing experience to participate in worship by giving praise to the Lord through clapping and dancing. I love worshipping at Bethany!

Through MIC I will grow in understanding of myself as a minister; gain practical ministry experience; be a part of worship leadership, preach my first sermon; encourage the baptized to recognize and use their God given gifts, lead a ministry project, develop pastoral identity, and so much more.

Currently, I am assisting with teaching 4-5th grade Sunday school which is a blast. Just last week we looked at the call story of Stephen in the book of Acts, one young girl raised the question of whether women were Apostles. We had an awesome time talking about women in the bible as well as why Moses is mentioned and the experience of the Holy Spirit. It is a delight to engage young people in questions of faith and exploring together possible answers. But most of all, my experience is teaching me that MIC is about learning how to lead God's people by learning how to follow Christ. So even though this year I am crazy-busy, MIC is crazy-awesome

May God invigorate our hearts to be followers of Jesus and servants of love, that by learning to follow we may also learn how to lead. Amen.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Come visit during the Seminary Sampler! 10/26-10/28

How did I get to where I am today? Specifically, how did I end up at LSTC?

Obviously there are many things in my life that have led me on this particular path. One of those things was attending a Seminary Sampler as I was starting to think about attending seminary.

The LSTC Seminary Sampler is a 3-day event held at LSTC for prospective students to come and get a "taste" of LSTC life. Prospective students visit classes, attend chapel, eat meals with LSTC students...the list goes on. It's a great time to experience the community of LSTC, while also continuing your own process of discernment. You may be asking yourself questions such as:

*Do I even WANT to go to seminary?
*What do I feel called to do?
*I know I want to go to seminary - but where?
*Would I like living in Chicago?
*What is seminary like?
*Do I want to go back to school?

These and many more are the types of questions that you will be able to explore by coming to a Seminary Sampler. When I came, I most appreciated meeting such a diverse group of people, both among the prospective students, and the current students...

*People come from various parts of the country and the world.
*We all have different interests: MDiv, MA, a dual degree with social work, etc...
*We are all different ages and have had such a variety of life experiences leading us to this point, regardless of our age.
*Among the prospective students, some have been aware of their call to seminary for years, while others of us had just started hearing a call. We were all in different places of personal discernment.

The next LSTC Seminary Sampler is coming soon - October 26-28, 2008. I encourage you to check out our website and consider visiting during this time, no matter where you are in the discernment process! You will be greeted with open arms by the LSTC community.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Reading Week?!?!

That’s what it says on the LSTC calendar and the question from the first year students is always “Do we really read all week or what?” The answer is yes…and no. The life of a seminarian is not easy. There are mountains of books, handouts, papers, reports and notes to be covered in a short amount of time. We deny ourselves sleep and even food in order to check off each item of each class syllabus. There is a calendar full of field education, spiritual friends, meetings and study groups as well.

So reading week is a time to catch up right? Yes…and no. Time to catch up on a little reading…ok. Time to catch up on some much needed sleep…oh yeah! Time to catch up on laundry…definitely! Time to do something fun like catch a movie or go for a long walk on the lakeshore…just show me the way!

Our seminary journey takes us to places we never imagined and is not always easy. But just like life outside the walls of LSTC, God is always there. God is there to lead us to calm green pastures and by streams flowing with living water in order to renew and refresh us for the next steps on our journey. So reading week…ok….how about I just READ the 23rd Psalm?

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.
The LORD makes me lie down in green pastures;
The LORD leads me beside still waters;
The LORD restores my soul.
The LORD leads me in right paths for The LORD’s name's sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I fear no evil; for you are with me;
Your rod and your staff -- they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
And I shall dwell in the house of the LORD my whole life long.

Peace and rest,