Saturday, October 21, 2006

Prophetic Rumblings

Seminary has been more than I could have ever asked for. In the midst of studying last night, after a particularly grueling stretch, my roommate popped his head into my room and exclaimed, “Hey, we are studying God!” His infectious optimism aside, I truly believe I have found a niche here, pursuing a graduate degree that will earn me a Masters of Divinity.
My classes never fail to bring me the same “holy crap” feeling that overcame my roomie – oftentimes I sit in class, overwhelmed that I am here, in this place, at this time, learning this amazing stuff and hearing these amazing stories from these unbelievable professors. I am blessed. I truly am.

On any given day, I hear the rich stories of the Hebrew people – stories in which they radically put their trust in Yahweh: a God that, during the time of the Exodus, tells Moses that the divine name is “I Am who I Am”, refusing to be specific and, in doing so, reminding the Israelites (and us) that God’s name refers to what God does and how God acts in the powerful history of God’s people – from a professor who tells these ancient stories as if they come from his own personal history. Then I learn the history of the Christian liturgy, educating me on why we do what we do today (and practicing what we do today, over and over and over again), and giving me a deep reservoir of appreciation for the rituals and rites we perform as Christians to remind ourselves of who we are, and whose we are. I may dive into Greek, learning the language of our own sacred texts – and subsequently realizing why Jews and Muslims are so insistent on knowing their own texts in the original tongue (and often by heart). And I end the day with a crash course on the history of our Church, with 16 centuries covered in just over three months.

I was knee-deep in an interpretation of the Exodus on the train tonight when a woman came on board, and it was obvious she had a story to tell. And, make no mistake, there were many on my particular section of the train that wanted to hear that story. The woman spoke of the moral degredation of our culture, plagued with racism, domestic violence, materialism, and a general selfishness that did not reflect her understanding of the gospel. I know what she preached was gospel, for – even though she made points with which I disagreed, even vehemently so – her words spoke to the good news that was present in her life because of Jesus Christ. For the entire trip home, she rarely took a breath in the midst of her sermon.

I could easily descend into a nice little pastoral tie-in to my own spiritual journey here at seminary in Chicago. But the truth is, I cannot help but do that very thing. For I can learn all I want in the nice confines of the intellectual paradise called “Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago” (and trust me, I will), but to listen to that passionate woman of faith on the L tonight was anything but comfortable.

It was jarring, and it pushed me to places I’d rather not go most of the time. She espoused a theology I could not wholly embrace, but she was a witness. The film director Tim Burton recently bemoaned the American ideal, saying, “…in America, when you’re passionate about something, people think you’re crazy. I just think you know who you are…”

This woman knew who she was, and she reminded me of who (and whose) I was. I thank God for being here, and I'll especially give thanks when I remember this night.



At 12:15 PM , Blogger Pastor Lori said...

I am so glad you are there--"there" being LSTC, seminary, a place where you are challenged, and a place of peace. Except for being so far from me, yes, I'm glad you're there.

And, I told you so. ;P


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