Happy May! It’s amazing how fast each semester goes by, especially when life keeps you on your toes. I am right in the midst of finals right now, and even though technically there is just one week of “finals” in the campus calendar, it seems like “finals” really lasts about three weeks. Between end-of-the-semester projects, presentations, group work, and of course, papers and sermons, most of us have been invested in final assignments for quite a while now
About two weeks ago I had an assignment for my 20th Century Sermons class that asked us to write and give a sermon “of the future.” In addition to that unusual assignment, I also worked on and submitted a 3 part sermon series that tied together the various learnings of the semester. For my Understanding Interfaith course, I wrote a paper on how I have come to understand “interfaith” as a result of life experiences and our class: personally, historically in the United States, theologically, and practically. Right now I am completing a Christian social ethics paper on how abortion is covered (or not covered) in the Affordable Care Act (woof, I know), and my last remaining assignment is an exegesis on Mark 7:24-30, the story of Jesus with the Syrophoenician woman, for my New Testament course.
So that’s what my past few weeks have been about. I should be finished this coming Thursday, because that is when Jason is coming to visit for several days! I am so excited to spend time with him when I don’t have any assignments or schoolwork to worry about! I do have to stay until graduation because of my job in the cafeteria. We are catering all of the events during the week of commencement: retirement parties, receptions, etc. But the day after graduation Jason and I will pack up a few of my things for the summer and drive back to Pennsylvania.
“What will you be doing in Pennsylvania for the summer?” I’m glad you asked! I am very excited to share that I will be participating in a Church of the Brethren program called Ministry Summer Service. MSS is a program for young adults to explore working in a ministry setting (a congregation, district office, camp, or national program). Normally this is an internship program for college students, but I am very grateful that Becky Ullom Naugle and Mary Jo Flory-Stuery, the directors of this program, are allowing me to participate as a seminary student. I have been placed at the Elizabethtown Church of the Brethren and pastor Pam Reist will serve as my mentor. I am extremely excited about this chance to serve a vibrant and welcoming congregation, and with Pam as my mentor I will have exposure to preaching, pastoral care, worship planning, pastoral team meetings, and strategic planning, as well as any other opportunities that arise over the summer. It will be such a breath of fresh air to be surrounded by the Brethren again, after nine months in New England with hardly any Brethren in sight!
The summer will also involve exciting things like serving as a volunteer Youthworker at the Church of the Brethren National Youth Conference (NYC) in Fort Collins, Colorado, as well as preparing for and celebrating my sister’s wedding on July 12! It really is going to be a summer full of opportunities and blessings, and I am so grateful.
Oh, I almost forgot to mention something exciting that occurred within the last few months. For a few years I have been subscribing to a national blog by and for interfaith leaders called State of Formation. This blog is a program of CIRCLE, the joint interfaith initiative between Andover Newton and Hebrew College, and the writers are seminary students, rabbinical students, graduate students and other activists who are committed to building bridges across religious and ethical lines. I am pleased to announce that I have been chosen to be a 2014 Contributing Scholar on State of Formation! This means that I will be writing and posting about one entry per month, related to interfaith work, public discourse between religions, leadership in a pluralist society, and other related topics. So far I have written two posts that have been published, one about why I am committed to making interfaith connections, and one about my family heritage that informs my call to ministry today. Check them out if you’d like! I’ll be sure to cross-reference any new posts that I write for State of Formation here on Agape Latte.
So that’s what’s been going on with me lately! I share these things not to brag or put myself up on a pedestal, but rather to stay in community and conversation with all of you who are supporting me, whether that is through your prayers, your encouraging notes, your phone calls, or your financial gifts. I am so very grateful for the privilege of studying at Andover Newton, learning more everyday about my faith and my call to ministry, figuring out how to be an authentic follower of Jesus but also remaining open and welcoming to the diversity of faiths and worldviews that coexist in our world. It is a beautiful place, friends.
Despite the many things that I am grateful for and the many ways that I seek and find God in this place, it is also good for me to remember these words from Mother Teresa. Perhaps you need to hear them too:
God doesn’t ask that we succeed in everything, but that we are faithful. However beautiful our work may be, let us not become attached to it. Always remain prepared to give it up, without losing your peace.
Thank you again for reading, and may we seek to be faithful, together.