What I didn't realize was this decision would fast forward my Seminary experience. With September upon us and class in session, the reality of the end of this journey is hitting home. It's unbelievable that soon I will be done. Soon I will graduate and embark on a new call of ministry.
This afternoon, I step into the classroom and it occurs to me that this is the room where it all began. It was in this room where TM and his hermeneutic deconstructed, brick by brick, everything I knew about faith, the Bible, Jesus, the church, and which character I am in the story (we're minor....). I remember sitting in this room, head spinning, confused and generally feeling completely under-prepared. I remember coming in late, lost in the building. I remember meeting people and feeling like the new kid in school, unsure if I had what it takes to "do" seminary.
I remember feeling profound gratefulness that at every turn that first year, the professors, staff and students rallied behind me, praying for me in incredibly difficult circumstances, helping me pursue my call, encouraging me to keep at it and reminding me to grant my self grace when I just couldn't get it all done.
I remember feeling ecstatic at the end of year one, hitting a stride year two, stressed all year three, and completely overwhelmed by the pastoral care and support of my Greek prof.
The deconstruction is what stands out to me though. Many people have a negative view of seminary. My pastor jokingly (I think) calls it "semetery" and a short perusal through the blog world and social media will reveal that perhaps it is semetery. Many people embark on the seminary journey, spurred by a call of faith, which is all too quickly extinguished. The deconstruction, necessary to rebuild your personal theology, taps deeply into doubt and when unchecked, can spiral to agnosticism or atheism. It's certainly not what one would expect when embarking...
Despite faculty changes, institutional struggles and changes in staff, seminary has been a haven. I have needed the escape of deconstruction, a new setting, people of faith wrestling with the same questions, and hearing stories of overcoming obstacles in ministry. My heart, faith, call to ministry and trust in God has been challenged in every other way possible the last three years. Seminary has been my sanctuary, the safe haven where I've come to tap into the Spirit, be reminded that God is up to good things in this world and desires to use me for his purpose.
So today, I give thanks for this room where it all began. I give thanks for every person placed in my path these past three years and I give all glory to God, who needed me raw to rebuild, renew and restore my faith and sense of his purpose going forward.
May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine on us - so that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations. - Psalm 67:1 - 2