So this quarter at Fuller I’m taking another Systematic Theology class. Except this time of tryingto understand the many facets of God & the Trinity & what it means to be human, we’ve moved onto Christology (study of Christ, who He is & What He has done) and Sotierology (the study of salvation.) Say that 3 times fast.
Now–I will admit something I have never really thought of– though I am a Christian I have really evaluated my thoughts about Christ. I know, sound silly. Usually I think I throw my thoughts about God into the bunch & include Christ (because I think of the 3-n-1 more together all the time) but this class is causing me to really think of my definition. Not to question authority, just to think. Which has lead me to thinking about more of what I believe and what I believed I’m called to do.
There are many names & adjectives for Christ– Victor, Liberator, Savior, Lord, King of Kings, Prince of Peace… and all of these names really shape who
Christ becomes to a believer. I have realized that speaking truth (Scripturally speaking) of who Christ is will encourage those who are listening. Let me explain this better: I have been reading about Liberation theology–a thought that Jesus is more of a liberator for those being oppressed. Personally I believe that this is who Jesus is/was/will be all along. I mean, didn’t Jesus do this in the Bible sorta? Doesn’t what Jesus does in the Bible show He sets the captives free!? So my initial reaction to that liberation theology ends up being “well of course, duh…”
But I have become to realize that those who are oppressed, the ones it is directly affecting, need and should point out who Jesus is to them… because that is the real point. Jesus is real, His love, His death, resurrection. And to make it real people have to connect (something I would argue that 90% of the world refuses to do because of the effort it takes and the commitment it might mean) And as someone who wants to go into ministry… I suddenly realize that me learning all this stuff (which I love learning anyways…) is to eventually be able to show how Jesus and God and belief and faith and all that junk people think seminarians and ministers and priests learn that is too beyond their minds is actually what matters, what becomes important….is actually what they want to know, hear, speak, … LIVE.
So in layman’s terms… I am beginning to figure out why this all matters. Because though I love knowledge and I may have a gift of learning knowledge, God has created me to be able to use that gift. So, I think i’m getting somewhere…
I apologize for the long awaited update. November was a busy month scholastically and December was just insane between finals & my long awaited sinus surgery. However, I figured as the New Year begins today (welcome 2011!) I would start off by updating my blog.
My first semester of seminary was fantastic! I think I enjoy the people the most. Everyone is there to become better equipped in whatever ministry they are doing and there is no hesitating claiming Christ out loud of praying in the middle of class. Sometimes I wish all learning in school was this exciting but we all know that’s just a wishful dream 🙂 I begin classes again for Winter Quarter on Monday– again back to the 3 nights a week after work and lots of reading & studying. In fact I just ordered my last books for class. I’ve never been so excited about all of this.
On a second note I did experience some wonderful things over break. One of the most amazing services ever was one of my seminary friends had her ordination. In addition to see the Bishop throw his hands up in praise while in his fully robs it was just an amazing service to watch someone publicly proclaim their ministry for the church. Keep in mind I grew up in a Methodist Church where ordination was 1 ceremony a year with everyone as opposed to other denominations who are ordained when they reach their church or ministry field. It was truly amazing!
Well, I’m outside @ Victoria Gardens right now and “cold” is beginning to define what I feel like. I will leave you all for now.
As I write this, I am hearing the buzzing of bugs & the chirp of crickets. yes folks, I’m in the South. South Carolina to be exact. Even though I am currently attending Fuller Seminary, the Lutheran candidacy requirements 1 year residence at a lutheran seminary so I am visiting Lutheran Southern Seminary in Columbia. This is a complete change from what I am used to. Even for what used to exist in Evansville. I feel completely out of my element & confused beyond belief. Yet… someone confused me for another student about 1/2 hour ago… as I was coming back into the apartment they are letting me use for the weekend. I’m really excited about this– I think it will all unfold as planned tomorrow when the event actually starts. And luckily there is a Lutheran church in walking distance that doesn’t have service until 11am! Wow… I can sleep in!
I don’t know what God is going to show me. I still feel he is calling me to Fuller–that I see revealing itself in my classes & fellow students. But at the same time I was walking around campus and noticed the amount of people who love dogs (dog stickers on cars, in the windows of apartments) and think that these people too may also be good. Maybe that is the message. I will have to spend some time digesting it.
Well, back to studying. Despite the “mini-vacation” (if you can call it that) I still have work to complete by Monday/Tuesday for classes… isn’t seminary exhilarating!
So seminary studies are within full swing. And I feel that I am being showered with blessings and revelations from God in every class, with every interaction and through everyone. For example… I was struggling today with what it means to be a theologian and why I get excited about something I am not sure I what my calling is. and tonight in my systematic theology class we defined theology and what it means. And it was encouraging words to here the discussion of the lecture. I connected old memories with new ones, related my crazy Christian hippy music to a quote the teacher made of Thomas Merton (thank you Psalters) and felt the presence of God living there. I think that is truly the best part about seminary. And actually that was the answers to my prayer in class.
Lately I have been considering why I do theology. I think about this because I want to make sure this is what God is calling me towards: a life studying theology and either teaching it to people through a classroom or through a pulpit. Tonight we talked about how prayer & theology should be interrelated and I really enjoyed how Dr. Ok explained different theologians directing towards always inviting God into our studies because that His glory and promotion of his Kingdom is the ultimate goal. And especially we should pray because we are talking, speaking, dealing with the Lord’s “material” essentially and we should get our stuff straight (sorry–its late, my theological jargon is a little off.)
Another thing I have been trying to answer is why i get upset at my mom sometimes (yes, its related… if I should be acting in Christian love I shouldn’t be yelling & fighting with my mom.) So in praying to God about this concern over the last two nights in class I have heard how in Scripture we are called to live life & “always giving thanks to God” for what we go through, whether it be suffering of joyous. Last night in Greek we talked about this section in the text, tonight in systematic theology we look at the question “Did God cause 9/11?” and even if so (which I do not believe God would cause suffering) we are called as Christians to give thanks for such great mystery of faith & belief. Its scripture based, is encouraged by fellow believers. I think I should be more gracious. And tonight, by no action of my own, I realized I was thanking my mom for raising me in the church which allowed & supported my theological studies and thinking. And I thanked her for be herself, brains and all, for without that my brother and I would not be so… geeky. And I realized I was not only living out what I need to learn more of but also loving my mom as Christ does… which I know my mom needs more of.
Gracious living listening to God. That is my discovery for the day.
Tonight was my first seminary class. And again, I asked myself “Why didn’t I go to this sooner!?!?”
It’s hard to describe how it felt going through classes again. I felt more open to learning, to hearing, and thankful that I had an opportunity to pray and be with people with God in our midst. Yes, that’s right. God was in my Greek class… and rightfully I can see how seminary education is definitely where I was meant to study. It felt like when I was in the 24-7 prayer room– a place I wanted to dwell with God–knowing I would learn and have time with Him–even in the midst of reading his text. I know this is short– but i haven’t had too much time to reflect on this yet.
One of the things I have found very common for those of us going into the ministry is you are constantly called to explain your call. Not that I am against this — if God puts something on your heart you should share it with everyone. I figured I would detail some items here… not necessarily a thoughtful, well-written but more like, well… (see title of blog.)
So I always state that the first time I knew God was really touching me was at my confirmation. Now, I know that’s very cliche, but its true. My goal in life has always been to be honest to yourself. You should never hid things, back up your feelings, or try to be something you’re not. When I was confirmed I took very seriously the desire to hold onto my baptism as a Christian. And it still hasn’t stopped today. However, when the group gathering around me placed their hands on me, I truly felt God touching me. I really didn’t know what for– I just knew He was there… and I knew that’s where I wanted to be.
Basically my story steams out from there. I was heavily involved in church and loved every minute of it but was persistent I would not stay in church or in music as a career. When I went to college I was going to take 1 religion class as an elective.. HA! when I took my first class I thought “wow, this stuff is amazing… studying God’s word & why people think what they do and what it means and why it matters.” I tried listening to God and hanging onto everything, even building a 24/7 prayer room I would love to live in still. God, again, pushing me, talking to me, and never forgetting what He had in store.
After college was a huge downfall. I had minimal support, ran around a little crazy trying to find a community, and dated people I probably could have been better friends than ex-boyfirends with. Then I met my current boyfriend. He loves me like God loves me– unconditionally and always true. Now grant it he’s not perfect, but this love is exactly what I need and I can thank my boyfriend for stirring me back to my love: God. I remember when my boyfriend asked what I would really want to do and I talked about going back to school, getting a degree in theology or something and do what God wants me to. I just didn’t seem to fit in anywhere else. Tried working for fun themeparks & in coffee shops & for business companies. But they don’t last long. And I refused to settle for working in a 9-5 job. I wanted the all the time love of my life career to be what I wanted… I just didn’t know what that looked like.
Well, with my boyfriend I began attending church regularly at Messiah Lutheran, joined groups and got active. I slowly began to realize that “normal” faith (if you can call it that) was not me. I was not a typical Christian– which is extremely hard for me to say. I love my family at Messiah. But I remember specifically one Sunday I was talking to God like “I really want to do something like seminary or ministry one day” and God, in his infinite wisdom kinda said “Why not?” and I would come up with 1001 excuses. And of course, in His Love… he kept questioning why I didn’t just follow my heart.
Finally I did. I decided to take that jump. Into something I have no idea where its going but I know right now I couldn’t be more excited and happy to learn all these details. And to study/talk/learn about being a disciple of Christ, a minister of the church. This is AWESOME! And as I begin to “settle” (which really isn’t what i’m doing, more like merging into the great stream of wonderfulness that is ministry) ideas and concepts and study just keeps getting better and better. This is why I can honestly say “God has called me to serve Him in His Church, the ELCA church, and to help lead it on its journey forward.” But I know that God couldn’t have pointed me in this direction without the past–without all the good and bad experiences. Even though a small bit of me wishes I had gone straight into seminary–there are many many blessings I would not have if I had done that. And God has used every bit of my past experiences and wonderings to push me into His grace and love for ministry.
So now you know. And honestly– that’s about all I really know too. As I have begun reading more about theology and people’s concepts of faith, theology and all the other stuff, I realize I know very little in the grand scheme of things. I also realize I have no idea where I’m going. I don’t mean I don’t have a plan. Or that I’m not prepared. I just know God’s leading the way and sometimes– where He is leading me I can’t always see.
So it has begun. I just purchased my laptop for school and downloaded the programs my school suggests for my paper writing. School is really around the corner. Not that I’m trying to get ahead but I also started reading some of my books and my brain is already exploding. But that’s ok, its seminary… its expected. I’m so excited to be learning more theology & growing on the things I learned in undergrad. Huzzah!