Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Now I Get It (at least for the moment)...

Week after week the workload in seminary seems undo able. I haven't posted anything lately because I, like others, have hardly come up for air from the piles on our desks of books and papers. Week after week I am stressed about whether or not I will get everything done that must be done. I'm not always sure (well, yeah I am) how everything gets done, but it does. This time I even tried to work ahead to no avail in preparation for guests.

My daughter and granddaughter visited this weekend from Rochester, NY. There was tons to be done, but I was determined to be as present and in the moment with them as possible. I did have to do some work for teaching parish, but most of my time was spent with them. And it's a good thing because they arrived sick and needing lots of TLC. Sunday they were totally out of it, so Ray stayed home and gave them lots of love while I went to Rural Lutheran.

They had perked up a bit while I was gone, but were still pretty out of it. I am so grateful for Ray's time with them. Knowing they needed extra time and attention would have normally sent me into a frenzy regarding stuff that had to be done and turned in by Sun. afternoon. Somehow, by God's grace, I was able to flow with the moment and everything that got done that needed to get done.

They left yesterday morning and arrived back home safe and sound. Besides already missing them desperately, my concern is that I remember this lesson--not to put off my schoolwork or avoid doing my best, to be present in the moment so that I can give the necessary attention to people--whether church, family, or members of our campus community. I must not use the amount of work be the excuse to avoid self-care or care of others.

Today was the type of day that allowed everything to come together as it should. I have been preparing to preach this coming Sunday on the gospel text. It is so rich and has so many ways one can develop it. So, this morning I made sure I went to lectio divina, knowing full well that this Sunday's gospel would be the passage we would be praying over, reading, meditating on. Some thoughts had come to me last night and I wanted to see what came up during this time. It was the same thing that surfaced for those of us gathered. The key to unlocking this passage seems to be Jesus' rebuke to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things” (verse 33). What are we setting our minds on? If we look at the world we live in today, the mess of our economic reality or whatever and just concentrate on that to the exclusion of "divine things" are we truly following Jesus?

Following Jesus flies in the face of convention. The passage is full of opposites: saving/losing life, gaining world/losing soul--basically there's no resurrection without the cross. Allowing the reign of God to break into our lives and world, even in the small things is countercultural and hard. It means following Jesus to the cross, the way of death.

The morning continued with a wonderful sense of God's presence as I went to The Church's Worship. A guest speaker taught about the Book of Common Prayer. Because of my interest and practice of the liturgy of the hours, I'm familiar with some of the prayerbook. I didn't know that much about it history however or the role it plays in Anglican and Episcopal. churches. Prayer shapes everything: Lex orandi lex credendi—how we pray shapes how we believe. The prayer is common not because it's ordinary, but because it's common to all of our life. When one is praying at any time, somewhere else in the world someone else is praying the same prayers. There is the sense of entering more fully into fellowship with the communion of saints. So, the learning and discussion in that class just helped to affirm what my and our priorities should be as we go through our days.

In the next class, we had a panel discussion with several area pastors concerning questions our class had generated. The time was spent entirely on eschatology (the study of last things) and death. Pastors spend a lot of time with the dying and their grieving families. Believe it or not, it was a lively, spirited discussion. The comments from the chaplain of Carroll Lutheran Village really got our attention. He said that at the Village, they tithe 10% annually. It took us a while to realize what he meant. 10% of their residents die annually. In his time there, he has buried the equivalent of two churches! He certainly has a wealth of experience in this field, as did the other pastors. More to put on the back burner for the future.

Chapel with Eucharist came next and seemed to suitably cap off everything. But then it got even better around our lunch table in the refectory. The second year students have received their internship assignments for next year. For some it brings a sense of relief and excitement having gotten one of their top choices. Others are wondering how to manage for a year with/without their family and commuting weekends to have time together. The conversation was rich and reflective. I put still more on the back burner for when it's our turn next year.

Tonight I feel like this is how it's supposed to be. Now I realize one can do all the right things and still have horrible days. There are still physical issues I'm dealing with, but since the time right before Sarah and Grace arrived for the weekend, I've had a sense of God's presence and grace to release concerns into God's loving care. That doesn't mean I'll remember that till even tomorrow, but hopefully I have truly learned a lesson. I'll keep you posted on the way the sermon goes. Please pray that I will be a faithful proclaimer and the congregation will have ears to hear God's Word. "Take Up Your Cross, the Savior Said"(ELW 667) says it all.

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2 comments:

Maggie said...

Speaking of "following Jesus..."

How did you figure out you wanted to go to seminary? I feel like I want to go, but I'm not sure if I'd be good enough...or if I could give up my current life...my current life isn't against a life Jesus would want for me, but I'm not sure what to do.

I'm really confused and wish I could just get a sign from God on what to do.

How did you discern it was the right path for you? Did something just "click" inside and you knew?

Ivy said...

Maggie, since I was a teenager I had a sense of God's calling. I just wasn't always too sure (still not) what that was. I had served overseas as a missionary, which was truly my passion. After returning to the US and marrying my husband, I thought that piece of my life was done.

It was actually through my husband that I got the nudge, push, urging to finish my undergrad degree, which happened May 2008 and go to seminary. Now the only reason I wanted to finish my undergrad was so I could go to seminary. That was a prerequisite. And I was going to seminary because I wanted to be a pastor.

It's probably best to make times just to be still and listen for God's "still small voice." But there will be friends, pastors, others in your life that probably have a sense of God's working and purposes for your life. It's in community that we're able to best be sure that we're hearing right.

If your synod has discernment retreats...GO. I don't remember what part of the country you're in but here's the url for the discernment advocates page of Project Connect: http://www.projectconnect.org/index.php?action=showMainMenuContent&menuId=6. Mark Olsen is here at LTSG and is wonderful. When I visited Phillie I spent some quality time with Louise Johnson. A visit is always a good idea. I visited 3 seminaries and whan all was said and done, this one felt right.

Keep listening! Peace.