Thursday, September 13, 2012

Sunshine and Rain

I am one class away from finishing my second week of classes as a seminarian.  In one sense it has gone by very slowly but at the same time I look back and realize these two weeks have gone really fast.  It is hard to believe I have been in Texas for three weeks and finished two weeks of class.  It is also hitting me that I am over 1,000 miles from family and friends who have been a part of my life for the last 22 years.  I was thinking about "home" (Louisville and Southern Indiana) today as the sky was dark and cloudy.  It is the first day since I have been here that it has not been sunny out.

One of the things I dreaded in Hanover was the gloom that seemed to come in the sky and stick around most of the academic year.  I felt like we had more gloomy days than sunny days in Hanover and for someone who loves to be outdoors, that was one downside to the place.  Here it has been really hot so I haven't spent too much time outdoors, and when I do it is not birding or hiking-it is in the pool!  But at the same time I feel that all of the sunshine has been a good change.  The rain is much needed here as it is across the country so I do not complain about the gloomy day (or days to come) but I rejoice in the beauty that is around me.

As I drive away from Austin or on the outskirts of Austin I find myself in awe of how beautiful the land is here.  The hills and ridges are unlike any I have ever seen or experienced before.  They may not be the Appalachian Mountains I love so much, but they still make me pretty happy.  I see the hills and the animals and think about how wonderful this world can be, and then I read the news and see how awful this world can be.  It is hard to imagine how anyone can be so hateful and destructive, it is hard to imagine how the beautiful landscape around us came into being, it is hard to imagine what has come of this world that we have to stand between these two feelings/ideas/insights of beauty and destruction, of love and hate, of peace and war.

In my reading of Calvin I came across a beautiful insight. Calvin makes a claim  that "our mind cannot apprehend God without rendering some honor to him, it will not suffice simply to hold that there is One whom all ought to honor and adore, unless we are also persuaded that he is the fountain of every good and that we must seek nothing elsewhere than in him."  I stopped reading and found myself caught in his statement, I was reading it over and over again.  I stopped reading and simply let this statement bounce around in my little brain and I was reminded of how small I am in this world.  And then I read what came to follow:

"I take this to mean that not only does he sustain this universes (as he once founded it) by his boundless might, regulate it by his wisdom, preserve it by his goodness, and especially rule mankind by his righteousness and judgment, bear with it in his mercy, watch over it by his protection; but also that no drop will be found either of wisdom and light, or of righteousness or power or rectitude, or of genuine truth, which does not flow from him, and of which he is not the cause.(Calvin: Institutes of the Christian Religion I.2.2)"

Wow.  I don't even want to go into the digestion of this small portion of reading I lifted from Calvin because I may never end this blog.  But I wanted to share it.  I wanted to share it because in light of the violence and intolerance going on in our world this brought me to a sense of peace.  It did not make me feel like the world was okay, it did not "fix" the problems I have with humanity.  BUT it did remind me that I am a child of a God who is full of love.  A God I worship and adore, a God who oozes goodness, truth, righteousness, and wisdom.  I was reminded that this world may be big but God is still here even when we doubt and question where God is in the midst of violence, hate, and chaos.  God is here, God is still breathing and oozing good things into this creation, be on the lookout.  Be reminded of the greatness of the God who created you.  Be reminded that we are to seek this God above all else in the world.

Peace and All Good Things,

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

1 Week down...

I am in my second week here at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary.  So far I have experienced many things including seminarians playing kickball, chapel services, all of my classes, being sick, being homesick, and being stuck in Austin traffic.

It has been an adventure so far, but I have to say that one of my favorite experiences so far has been taking communion in chapel.  For many taking communion by intinction is nothing new, however here at APTS it was new to me!  It was a new experience because those serving the bread tear the bread and hand it to you proclaiming it to be the "Bread of Life."  Some may read this and think what is so new and great?  Well the reasoning behind the bread being given to you is that you are not working to earn it.  You do nothing but stand there and receive this gift.  It is just like grace!!

Maybe some of you have experienced this before, maybe not.  I do know that each time I receive communion I will remember this and remember that it isn't that I "take" communion but I "receive" it and I will be intentional about the language I use to about communion as well.

As my seminary journey continues I am sure I will find nerdy things such as the way communion is received to get excited about.  I am sure I will continue to have fun playing kickball with my colleagues, and I am sure that traffic will continue to be a challenge.  I am also certain that I will continue to be more aware of the ways God presents the many riches of God's grace to me in various forms!  As for being sick, well I hope that is not something that comes around very often but if it does I will take it one day at a time and I will be getting myself in to see an allergist!

I hope you are all reminded of grace each and everyday, and I hope it is made manifest to you in many ways including ways you never imagined.

Peace and all good things,