I don’t know how you spent your lunch hours last week, but I spent most of mine describing in detail the Baptist distinctives of local church autonomy and soul freedom and just why it was not appropriate for the SBC to ask church communities to sign a statement of faith and belief. That, combined with the other half of that luncheon discussion — just what is meant by the formal process of discernment through which the majority of my classmates have just passed — has left me feeling like I spent the last week in the tumbler of one of those rock polishing machines that I banished from the house over a year ago.
This will be the last post in the series I’ve called “Preparing the way” because despite the truth that the next two years will be about nothing except preparation, I’m in it now and it is time to stop acting like I’m not. No, I haven’t yet figured out an easy way to get myself all put together and peacefully out of the house to make morning prayers at 8:15 a.m. No, I haven’t become completely comfortable with the Hebrew alphabet (oh especially those Masoretic vowel points) I am desperately trying to make my own while feeling like I cannot possibly be smart enough to do it. No, my renovation project is not finalized and complete, with everything in its place although all the old furniture all delivered to the rummage sale. No, I haven’t figured out how to balance the dual track of study and music despite the fact that the concert offers are starting to roll in and require planning.
Am I tired? You bet I am. Am I feeling the fact that my last truly academic work was a long while ago? Yes indeed. Am I still certain that this was the next right step in my journey? The answer to that one is yes, most of the time.
The one, clear, “YES” that I have is that I did indeed make the right choice of institutions for this grand experiment of study. Let me share with you what I have learned in my first week at the Virginia Theological Seminary.
I was concerned that being the only Baptist student would play negatively against my need to belong to the group, but I think that it is actually working for me. Not that there aren’t many things happening during orientation and all around me that I will never be part of, but being in a position where I must talk about my choice to be Baptist has only served to help me to strengthen my own individual faith identity (and that is, after all, what being a Baptist is all about, right?).
The other really important thing that I have learned over these past few days is this: what an amazing and loving and interesting community of faith I belong to as a member of the Calvary Baptist Church. The first reason: because no one could possibly be as supported and encouraged by their community as I have been by mine. The out stretched hands and hearts lifting me up when I have doubt and I am afraid these past weeks have been overwhelming…I have never felt so much a part of a community of faith. And second, I realize from talking to my classmates what a magnificent opportunity I have had over the past years (and hope to continue to have over these next years) to actually live out my calling and to “try on” so many aspects of this life of faith. Calvary, its pastors, and its congregation definitely are the most amazing teaching congregation.
For all these things, and the things to come on the journey ahead, I am must humbly grateful.