The end is near. That’s what I keep telling myself at least. Yet before this semester’s eschaton I must contend with an apocalypse of work—reading reflections, final exams, a whole lotta Greek (I spent two hours writing out paradigms last night). I am surviving this cataclysm through daily time with the scriptures and prayer. As I explained in my last post, a devotional habit is really the only thing that keeps me sane. Through it I remind myself of the truth; otherwise I become quickly lost in doubt and self-deception. My spiritual memory is notoriously fickle without God’s intervention.
It has been an intense two weeks. From the 8th-11th our whole school traveled to Ridgecrest, NC (5 min from Black Mountain, 20 min from Ashville) for the national Anglican missions conference that happens every three years. I admit it was strange to be at a missions conference when you are fairly sure that you won’t be doing missions in the foreseeable future. Even so, there were two or three key moments when the Lord grabbed my attention, but they had to do with a lifestyle of prayer and not any kind of sending. It was a huge blessing, though, because my mom, sister, dad and stepmom all drove to Western North Carolina in order to visit me. I definitely enjoyed the time with my mom and sister, but the time with my dad was even more meaningful simply because it is the first time in my living memory when he came up with the idea to and sacrificed for (an eight hour drive that took him into the wee hours of the morning) my sake. He really showed me that he loves me in a way that he hasn’t in many years, and that’s priceless.
Last weekend, the Trautmans, Scott Bowles and I drove from Pittsburgh to Wheaton, IL in order to attend the annual Wheaton Theology Conference, this year dedicated to engaging the work of N.T. Wright. Scott and I used to listen to him while at work and then talk at length (usually favorably) about the implications of his epistemology, ecclesiology, politics and so on. So it was appropriate that our first time seeing him in person would be together. But it was no weak exercise in brown-nosing; although the overall tone was positive, several presenters—esp. Richard Hays—presented substantial and fundamental critiques of Wright’s theological-historical method. Between the beautiful weather, good time with friends, delicious food and sustained intellectual stimulation, it was a great weekend.
My summer plans are up in the air, but whatever they are I will remain busy. There is still the chance I will do a CPE program at the Aliquippa jail with Denny Ugoletti, but I have been leaning more towards taking a language this summer. Either way, I am definitely taking Ken Bailey & Grant LeMarquand’s June term “Jesus Through Non-Western Eyes,” for which I am duly excited. Ken Bailey is a Presbyterian minister who lived and served in the Middle East for 60 years before retiring in 1995 and is now canon theologian to the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh. He is one of those wizened sage types who you could listen to tell stories one after the other and never tire. Grant is Trinity’s academic dean and has been doing work with indigenous African theologians for many years now. If Philip Jenkins is right (and I think he is), our sons and daughters will be reading their books when they get to seminary.
For my friends scattered to the 50 states (esp. Florida. Woot.), I want to commend Trinity School for Ministry to you. Many of you have graduated college and are in a twenty-something’s no-man’s-land of disposable jobs and pre-marriage socio-geographical flexibility. Trinity is a great school with a small, loving community and top-notch academic instruction. Recent donations to the school have made it possible for full time students to receive full tuition scholarships—you are not going to find a cheaper, high-caliber master’s degree. Exercise some imagination and ask the Lord if this isn’t a possibility for you; fourteen months ago Trinity was barely on my radar, now I’m finishing my first year. Come check out a June term, or come to Be a Seminarian For a Day. But don’t write it off just because you’re not Anglican! The Lord is with these people, and working through this institution.
Finally, I am excited because it looks like I am going to get involved with my church’s prayer ministry. That means I would be involved in post-communion prayer on a regular basis as well as the monthly soaking prayer that happens before service on the last Sunday of the month. My closest friends know that I have long had a heart for prayer and some know that I really get energized and enlivened by praying directly for people. I love it because I usually sense that God is present, speaking and working and because it helps me grow in love for others. Day to day life does not always engender either of these.