Tuesday, March 20, 2012

What Do I Want Out of Seminary?

Tomorrow morning I am visiting McCormick Seminary. As of right now, it is my top choice for seminary. Lately, I've been thinking a lot about what I am looking to get out of an M.Div program. I'm not quite sure yet how all of this meshes together, but the following things are ideas that have been floating around in my head:

  • What does it mean to be Presbyterian? To be Methodist? To be Catholic? To be Lutheran? Why do people choose one denomination over another? Frederick Buechner likens it to team mentality over a difference in theology. He writes that people choose one church over another for superficial reasons. And that they don't really know what they believe. I definitely fall (somewhat) into that camp. This YAV year has been especially amazing for me because it has forced me to think about some of these things in a way I've never thought of them before. I am slowly formulating in my mind what my beliefs actually are and how they fit in with the Presbyterian Church (USA). 
  • What does an open dialogue between people from different denominations look like? An actual open dialogue- not just tolerating the other's beliefs but actually trying to understand and accept. There is a huge difference between listening to what someone is saying and actually hearing what they have to say. This year I have had cross-denominational conversations, but I am not sure if I was listened to or heard. And vice versa, I'm not sure if I was listening to or actually hearing what was said. 
  • How would that play out in worship? Especially if most of the differences in church denominations is not actually theological differences, but instead differences in styles of worship? I want to explore other ways of worship. What about a worship space that is used more than just Sunday mornings? Why can't we have a space that also allows for people to relax, have fun & enjoy being around other people?
Right now I am also reading The Screwtape Letters. I found the book when I was about 12 years old in a closet at First Pres- Granbury. When I read it back then, I had no idea what I was reading. Now that I am reading it again, it has helped me formulate some of the above. Anyway- that is just a little of what I've been trying to process over the past few weeks and put into words. 

I am really excited for my visit to McCormick tomorrow! I'll try and post something about my thoughts on the school tomorrow. 

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Read the Bible in a Year

Hey y'all! You should probably go check out the Fourth Church Youth's YouTube page. We are uploading a 90-second reflection video everyday. We have been doing this since January 1st, but I just haven't gotten around to posting about it yet.

Although it creates more work for us, I do love this idea. Though I am not sure how many of the kids are watching the videos daily. If you have some time to spare- go check out the videos! My favorites are the ones that the kids make.

The video above is the one we made on the Elevation Winter Retreat a few weeks ago. The videos follow the same passages for reflection as the "Reading the Bible in a Year" devotions. If you want more information on those, check out the Fourth Presbyterian Church's page for more information.

I know this sounds like an advertisement for Fourth...and maybe it is...but I just think it is a great resource that should be spread beyond the Fourth Church congregation. :)

Seminary Update: I am visiting McCormick Seminary on the 21st. I am really excited for my visit!! A lot of the people I work with are graduates of McCormick and absolutely loved it. There is a grant available to allow YAVs to visit Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary and I have emailed Admissions to try and set up a visit. 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

March Devotion

Passage for Reflection: Psalm 26

  • 26 Establish justice for me, LORD ,
  • because I have walked with integrity.
  • I’ve trusted the LORD without wavering.
  • 2 Examine me, LORD ; put me to the test!
  • Purifyu my mindv and my heart.
  • 3 Because your faithful love
  • is right in front of me—
  • I walk in your truth!
  • 4 I don’t spend time with people
  • up to no good;
  • I don’t keep company with liars.
  • 5 I detest the company of evildoers,
  • and I don’t sit with wicked people.
  • 6 I wash my hands—they are innocent!
  • I walk all around your altar, LORD ,
  • 7 proclaiming out loud my thanks,
  • declaring all your wonderful deeds!
  • 8 I love the beautyw of your house, LORD ;
  • I love the place where your glory resides.
  • 9 Don’t gather mex up with the sinners,
  • taking my life along with violent people
  • 10 in whose hands are evil schemes,
  • whose strong hands are full of bribes.
  • 11 But me? I walk with integrity.
  • Save me! Have mercy on me!
  • 12 My feet now stand on level ground.
  • I will bless the LORD
  • in the great congregation.

A few weeks ago one of my friends posted on Facebook a clip from a Primetime ABC segment of “What Would You Do?” The show is about testing people’s reactions to everyday situations. The different scenarios usually revolve around some sort of injustice but always involve props and actors and never actually put anyone in serious danger. In order to get an accurate and honest response, the people observing the scenario do not know it is staged. The clip that my friend posted dealt with racism directed towards interracial couples. I think the true glory of “What Would You Do?” comes from the show’s ability to make us reassess our own priorities and values.

Psalm 26 can be used in a similar way. David makes a bold statement about his unwavering trust and how strongly he holds to his moral beliefs. Can we say the same? Oftentimes I worry we as a society are too complacent with the things happening around us. Psalm 26 is a great passage to use as a mirror. How do your past actions align with your own morals and values?

Heavenly Father, grant me the strength to honestly evaluate my actions. Often it is easier to look the other way or walk on by while injustice happens around us. Give me the courage to stand up for what I believe in and to do your will. Help me stay strong and walk with integrity. Amen.