Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Why I am doing this.

            Next week I will be graduating from the University of North Texas which of course prompts the question: “What are you doing next?” I typically have two different answers, to my own shame response 1: “I’m going to Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary for a dual-degree in Divinity and Social Work.” Response 2 is, “I’m going to grad school in Austin.”
Response 1 typically elicits these replies:
a.      “Oh you’re going to be a pastor/priest that’s great!’
b.      “Oh…you’re going to be a pastor – what do you think about the Church’s opinion on __________?”
a.      Homosexuality (DOMA, Prop 8, marriage equality, LGBT homelessness, LGBT suicide, etc.)
b.      Women
                                                                                  i.     Ordination
                                                                                 ii.     Reproductive Rights
                                                                               iii.     Pay inequity
c.      Race Relations/Slavery
d.      Palestine/Israeli Relations
e.      War
f.       Other Religions
g.      Etc.
c.      “You’re too smart to waste your talents on the Church.”
d.      “Good luck with that…”
Response 2 typically elicits these replies:
a.      “That’s great! We need more social workers.”
b.      “You’re going to UT, my grandkid goes there too, look out for __.”
c.      “You’ll be so great at that.”
Honestly I like giving the second response more, not only because I like being encouraged, but I am also tired of defending the Church. I went to Christian school from Pre-K to 8th grade, and we were constantly being taught apologetics, or ways to defend the faith. Quite frankly, I am so tired of defending God, God is supposed to be my shield and my defense (Psalm 7:10) not the other way around. But I digress; my faith should not revolve around defending God or defending the Church. So for years now, I’ve given up defending that God and defending the Church. One of the reasons I want so much to faithfully live out my call is to help make the Church an institution that no longer needs defending because it faithfully living out the call of following Christ’s example.
            Now to the questions of why I am going to seminary and why I am seeking ordination; the answer is really simple and easy: Because I am called to. Isaiah said it best, “Here am I Lord, send me (Isaiah 6:8)” and like Isaiah I may have accepted God’s call on my life without fully knowing what I was getting into. I am going to seminary because I felt called to, this was the next step I felt the Spirit leading me to. Wherever He (or She) leads me I’ll go…

I first felt/heard the call to ministry in the Summer of 2006 – I had no idea that I would wind up in the UMC or that I would wind up staying in the South, that the Presbyterians would be successful at luring me into their seminary, or that I would wind up so socially progressive in comparison to my upbringing. I had no idea that God would lead me through Baylor, to ACC, to UNT, to APTS. I honestly had no idea that I would actually have to move somewhere in this faith journey, I thought that being called meant I had already arrived; thank God that I haven’t arrived yet. Thank God that this journey is never ending. I am thankful to God, that I have been called to walk alongside others as they walk this journey as well.