Halfway point transition — less than a month before we move!

It’s less than a month before we move — and that makes reaching this halfway point in our seminary journey seem very very real. I wish I had a nice photo of us to go with this post, but I’m not home (or I would likely be packing instead of writing), and didn’t think to take one as I started to pack boxes. I’ll wait and post one of us by the house in Harmony, MN … and other places there.

After we move I will have almost exactly a month to settle in at the new house, and enjoy some summer time with my daughters prior to their return to school and my starting my chaplaincy residency. I am confident the time will fly by considering how fast the first half of the summer escaped us.

I am starting to get inpatient to be back in a chaplaincy program though, so I think the timing will be perfect. I’m looking forward not only to again be doing actual pastoral care ministry in the hospital setting, but also to having a regular schedule with scheduled on-call times. I’m learning that another reason chaplaincy is a good fit is because even though I don’t always like to admit it, I do better with a predictable routine (with not much being predictable actually while working but at least my work/home routine is predictable).

I’m also very excited for Shawn. We visited all three of the internship churches last Sunday (talk about a whirlwind morning), and it is so clear that this is going to be a great experience for him. It will also be nice for him to preach on a predictable schedule and to a congregation he knows even though all of the pulpit supply preaching he has been doing has been wonderful as well.

Things I’m spending my time doing these days:

  • relaxing for bits of time with family and friends (fewer deadlines!)
  • packing and preparing for packing (purging!)
  • interviewing and writing (just a little work for WTS communications dept.)
  • baking — testing gluten free communion bread recipes … and trying to carve out time to write about it!
  • Connecting with friends when traveling (La Crosse, Dubuque, Winona, Rochester … well, I’m trying anyway … if you haven’t heard from me, give me a shout out)
  • Attempting to get back to a good exercise habit (yoga!!! and some running again in addition to daily walks) and other good self care habits … including daily meditation and prayer time now that I can no longer attend daily chapel
  • And about a million “little” to do items that seem to make it on the daily and weekly list

And a quick top 3 thankful at this moment list:

  1. Parents / Grandparents!! (Nessa is getting lots of time with her grandparents this summer and it is awesome!)
  2. My wonderful husband — Shawn is working hard this summer so well, so we can afford to live this summer as we transition from primarily students to hands-on learning (with stipends) … but our positions of course start at odd times leaving gaps that were hard to fill with paid work, but Shawn did awesome filling it with a pretty much full-time maintenance job, summer sacristan position, and many weeks of pulpit supply (his favorite I’m guessing) and for this I am very very thankful!
  3. That our cars are still running reasonably well … seems minor but with no money for major repair work right now every noise scares me … thankfully we were told the noise in the car isn’t an emergency (whew!) and can be put off to fall … praying we will be told the same for the van next week. Thankfully, we have had no auto related drama with all of our driving back and forth from Dubuque area to “home” this year!

Love and belief,
Tami

Things I didn’t expect to happen while in seminary

I compiled this list over a few weeks as things occurred to me at the end of my second year of seminary.

Random things I didn’t expect to happen while in seminary (with no judgement about if these are good or not … just unexpected):

  • that I would become a stronger feminist
  • not only expanding my cooking knowledge but becoming passionate about making soup!
  • embracing bread making (gluten free of course!)
  • developing a deep rich theology surrounding Eucharist … deciding to research and write on inclusive communion
  • that I would not only be comfortable assisting in worship services, but embrace it joyfully as part of my ministry of presence!

Looking at that list I am curious what God has in store for me that may draw on some of these experiences!

God is good!

….

Love and belief,
Tami

Rainy Day Reflections … part one (How was it to lead worship with your husband?)

While talking to classmates after chapel today I realized I
was not rushing off to do the next most urgent task on my list
immediately, but instead I actually need to take a moment and
reflect on how to best use my time today — mostly I need to decide
how to split my time between all of the things I put off over the
last coupe of weeks when I had to be focussed on a couple of strict
deadlines and what assignments that are due next week I should
start working on. Oh, and just maybe I can justify calling a friend
or playing Barbies with my 8-year-old daughter sometime today as
well (Nessa made the request already this morning because I was
recently, upon rediscovery, able to give her two Barbie dolls,
complete with homemade clothes, from when I was her age). 🙂

First– A little reflection time before the intensity of recent
experiences evaporate … (maybe it’s the rainy weather or the
intense emotions of the week(s) … or maybe it just is the most
important thing this morning)

This past Sunday was the first time Shawn and I were able to lead Sunday worship together. Thankfully we were able to do this for the first time in our home congregation
(Good Shepherd Lutheran in La Crosse, WI). It was a joy to not only
be back among friends, but specifically to be among the brothers
and sisters in Christ that nurtured our faith. I mean this very
seriously — the members of Good Shepherd are a very important part
of my/our call stories. I cannot count how many times I lift up the
members and ministries of Good Shepherd to my colleagues here at
Seminary. While small group ministries were vital to us during our
years worshiping and being formed there, life truly centered around
worship for us and being there certainly brought joy and memories.
This is also the sanctuary and community where our daughter Nessa
was baptized and Megan confirmed her faith. Nessa, in particular
literally grew from baby to young child crawling, walking and
dancing through both that sanctuary and the long halls and rooms
where the people of God gather to study, pray, sing, eat and even
play together. Looking back at Nessa’s physical growth during our
time there is a wonderful metaphor for her parent’s faith growth
and formation as future leaders … and yes, I am getting a little
nostalgic.

I do though want to lift up the People of God at Good
Shepherd Lutheran in La Crosse. And I ask that all of you lift them
up in your prayers with me as I thank God for their joyful response
to God’s good news. I thank them for welcoming us as a family nine
years ago and for continuing to welcome us each time we are able to
return and worship there together. I also thank them specifically
for supporting us in our seminary journey with prayers and gifts
towards our education. I cannot express adequately how important
this support is to us in sustaining us through these years.
Seminarians are truly called and sent. Thank you people of Good
Shepherd for sending us!

Now, specifically, about how it was to
assist my husband in leading a worship service (or co-lead; how you
define it is not particularly important to me at this point, but
honestly I am happy to be in the assistant role … even on days
I’m preaching) — Well, to put it simply — it felt like the most
natural thing in the world to me. To me it felt like we can make a
good team and that any bumps that happened in the unfolding of the
service were not related to our working together in any way.

While assisting others my “presence” during worship has been affirmed by
both mentors (professors and others) as well as classmates, and I
thought it was of particular note that this was also commented on
after the service that Shawn and I led together. I personally,
appreciate this affirmation as part of what we refer to as
“external call.” One of the first ways I articulated my call to
diaconal ministry was by describing it as a call to a “ministry of
presence.” That description still fits with my primary call to
ministry even though I now am able to put additional description or
titles (such as chaplain) on it. When I came here (Wartburg) I did
not anticipate feeling the way I do when I am part of worship
leadership. It is still hard to describe — it is certainly the
Holy Spirit working …. I feel in many ways the same “presence”
that fills me and leads me during worship (especially when leading
prayers of the people) as I do when I am “simply present” with a
Child of God I meet for the first time when I walk into their
hospital room.

And that is enough for one blog post … more
emotional connections to follow. Love and belief, Tami

Productive Procrastination, or Seminarian Struggles and Joys

Really, my main objective, besides avoiding writing my Hebrew Bible paper (or one of ten other assignments), is to let my few readers know that I am still here — and better yet, I am feeling at least reasonably well these days (after being ill with multiple viruses for much of Spring semester up through Easter). So, this is primarily a general update on what is going on as I keep on keeping on through my 2nd semester of my 2nd year of seminary.

I also have big news — my husband Shawn (http://leavingmyselfbehind.wordpress.com/) and I can now officially announce where we will be next year. Next year is Shawn’s internship year during his “pastor prep” studies and I will be doing field work as well via a year-long hospital chaplaincy. I was offered (and accepted) a chaplain residency at Mayo School of Health in Rochester, MN (starting September 2013) and we recently found out that Shawn’s internship churches will be in Harmony, MN (about 40 minutes south of Rochester on Hwy 52). We went to visit the Harmony area this past Saturday as we were going to be in Rochester anyway, and we were quite taken with the town and are very much looking forward to the year there in spite of my original reluctance to be in a small town for the year.

As background info our education “schedule” works like this.

  • 2 Academic years (we are both seminarians at Wartburg Theological Seminary in Dubuque, IA)
  • 1 field work year / internship (actually my degree program doesn’t require me to follow this exact schedule for fieldwork, but Shawn’s does so it simply works best for our family if I do some of my field work at the same time … and it gives me great experience!)
  • A final year (3rd academic year; 4th year total) back at Wartburg in Dubuque. Shawn will have a strictly academic year while I finish up classes, including classes focusing on my research project, and complete my congregational field work hours (all previous field work will have been done doing chaplaincy in a hospital and I need congregational hours as well).
  • During that final year at Wartburg, Shawn and I will also be going through the final phase of candidacy with the ELCA — Approval. Then, we will go through the assignment process and be assigned a region of the country and then a synod within that geographic region … and then receive calls to ministry.
  • Our expected graduation is May 2015 and really that final point of the last bullet can happen before or after graduation (we do not accept/start the call position until after graduation of course.
  • Shawn will graduate with an Master of Divinity degree and feels called to congregational ministry as a pastor.
  • I will graduate with a Master of Arts in Diaconal Ministry and feel called to working in pastoral care ministries — ideally bridging both church ministry and other “institutional” ministries (like hospital chaplaincy). At some point, not necessarily as part of my first call to ministry, I am likely to seek certification as a chaplain as well (another lengthy process).

OK, Whew. Hope that was helpful for a few. I have had numerous questions and thought it might be helpful. Please comment with any additional questions and I will answer there or do a Q&A post.

Now a few quick thankful shout-outs to highlight just a few of the many many joys in my life:

  • A husband that really really understands my call to diaconal ministry!
  • A brilliant 8-year-old daughter (8 for a week now!) who tells us that the reason we can’t stand in the kitchen hugging and dancing is because we wouldn’t be able to give her a kiss goodnight that way. 🙂
  • Lots of extended family to love and care for our girls (especially fun with birthdays)
  • A Mom and daughter that want to spend time quilting together (it’s so nice when all three of us can get together and kind of just “be” in that way … just wish I was healthier when we did that over Spring Break)
  • Classmates / colleagues that look forwarding to working with me and appreciate my voice and presence.

For the above — and SO MUCH MORE — each day I give God thanks and praise!

I did mention struggles though too, right? See as my colleague and I were just talking about I want to be authentic as well. It can be really challenging to be authentic without coming across as complaining at times though — especially to those that have not experienced the intensity of such a formative seminary experience. Seminary is challenging and formative even in the best of circumstances. When juggling family responsibilities with two full-time seminarian students as family is the reality, well I don’t think I can describe it while still in the process of living through it. I can’t be objective about this experience. I just can’t, and I think that is why I have had an especially hard time blogging this year. It’s not just the challenge of making time to do it. In some ways I am more relaxed about time this year even though I have less of it than ever before.

At the same time there are only mere seconds that I doubt at all that I am not exactly where I should be. I would not have imagined this journey a decade ago, and yet now I can not imagine any other journey. I often wonder if I am more different now than I am the same person of a decade ago. (In many ways it is not simply a nice reference to say “a decade” because it was indeed about a decade ago that my life changed drastically.)

I believe I have said it before, if not here then elsewhere, but talking about life here reminds me of some of the old military ad campaigns, or the peace corps motto of “the toughest job you’ll ever love.” Nearly ever single day I think about how hard this is in so many ways, and yet I LOVE it at the same time. I love the challenge; I love the way I will struggle and struggle through a paper and when done really feel like I can articulate a theological viewpoint that I could not previously do; I love the way new ideas are part of so many conversations here both in and out of class; I love how we take each other and our questions seriously; Oh, and I love listening to Shawn practice his sermons and being able to be taken seriously as his “first hearer” … and I love collaborating in so many ways with him; and I love that there is much more to this than I could possibly say at the moment.

At the same time most days I think the school’s admissions office is likely keeping any couple who both want to go to school at the same time far away from us because I will tell them — do NOT DO IT — try to do anything else first! (In reality I am much much more encouraging … most days). In reality I do not spend enough time on school work; I do not spend enough time with my daughters; I do not spend enough time with my husband; I do not spend enough time with my family (parents, siblings, in-laws, etc.); I do not spend enough time with my dear friends (here or elsewhere!) and I do not always steward my own personal resources well either (spending sufficient time resting, praying, exercising and so on).

Too much of this semester has been spent in a “triage” mode. I look only to what is the next most urgent thing on my list and that is it. I frequently have dozens of things on my list that simply never get done at all because of this (birthday cards and phone calls are just the tip of the iceberg). I didn’t think this year would be this hard. Then, I thought second semester would be better. I am now realizing I need to be able to find a way through even when this constant urgency continues.

We are told in many ways by many mentors that in some ways seminary is preparing us for ministry. Likely one of those ways is that there will always be way more for me/us to do than we can possibly do, and I will need to be able to triage in a way that does not seem like an Emergency room that admits only extremely urgent items to my attention and keeps me operating on adrenaline (not good for someone with chronic auto-immune illness anyway). To be fair, there are days that I get much closer to that and in many ways I am much more relaxed this year than last year. However, there is much more to do.

I wondered if naming this reality a bit here would encourage me as I need it. I pray that it does.

How do you manage yourself through time?

How do you express your joys and struggles? remain honest and authentic while maintaining an attitude of grace and gratitude?

Until next time, which I hope will be soon, may peace and joy be yours.

Love and belief,

Tami

Sometimes there is something comforting about working at my kitchen table

It’s Ash Wednesday. I have barely over a half an hour before chapel starts, and there is other work scheduled in my time slot for this precious time, and yet I feel an irresistible pull to simply acknowledge this space and time.

The busyness of the semester has begun. I have not yet finished entering all of my assignments and deadlines into my calendar and already I realize that is not going to be the “light” semester I had hoped for. Instead we continue to muddle through each day moment by moment while rarely feeling as if each item is receiving my full attention. I have also drastically cut back on some commitments or extra activities. Meanwhile I offset that balance by being very intentional about family and self care time, including exercise.

And lent begins today. How do I honor that part of the journey. How do we observe lent as a family?

I am so thankful that I am making this seminary journey with my family. I cannot imagine it any other way and yet it does change the journey.

I am also thankful for my Wartburg seminary community. We are a community centered around worship, and I have become more and more appreciative of this during this second year livin gin this community.

In a short while I will leave my warm sunny kitchen and trek up to “the castle” and worship with others in this community. Each Wednesday we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, and today there will also be the imposition of ashes … dust, we are dust.

Here in my kitchen I feel a connection to all of it. I do work at my office desk at times (I can see it from where I am sitting in the kitchen; it’s not a big house) and in the library as well, but sometimes with the sun streaming in the window in the morning, uplifting music playing in the background, photos of my family on the wall, and the food given to sustain our bodies surrounding me … the kitchen is what pulls me. Cooking and baking have become a surprise blessing to me in recent years, and now I often look forward to spending time in the kitchen during my sabbath time. The fact that I can work on a sermon or other work here feel like an integration of my identity in ways I cannot fully articulate yet.

Today I give thanks for all of it.

Now, one more cup of tea with the next productive 20 minutes.

Love and belief,
Tami

Contemplating Sabbath

Ever since our first semester of seminary when we heard examples of how to keep sabbath time in our lives I have been considering what this would look like or possibly could look like in my life. As a parent it seems I need to be somewhat flexible on this. I also know that staying up late working on homework Saturday simply to be free from doing homework Sunday would not be a plan that would work for me. There are many other possibilities I considered along the way, but nothing that I really practiced.

I would start each semester or time of transition by planning out when I would take time to take care of myself — such as carving out yoga time, time for groups I like to attend, and so on. Sometimes this works better than other time and maintaining a yoga and exercise schedule certainly is an important part of my self-care plan; however, I no longer thing it’s truly sabbath time.

I’m considering doing a Saturday sundown to Sunday sundown. This would give me Saturday night to relax with family or friends (something that comes naturally to me on both Friday and Saturday night actually), and leaves Sunday night for returning to school or other work. I would still need to be careful about not leaving too much for Sunday night although this semester is the perfect semester to experiment since my class load is lighter on Mondays.

My brain can’t help but wonder how I would work this with an on-call schedule such as if/when I again start working in a hospital in the chaplain role … and then I tell myself that is no reason to not to try it now.

So, starting in just over an hour I will begin my Sabbath time. I will try to be gentle with myself in this transition as I attempt to discern what are appropriate Sabbath activities. I think, at least initially, I will fast from social media during this time, but still allow electronics in various forms (especially my e-reader — just for pleasure rather than work).

The main thing though is that I will free myself from the “should” feeling of what I should be doing — and the long “to-do” list that I always have.

I think that I will also find some additional meditation or spiritual practice books to dig into on Sundays. I could probably just look on my book shelves for books I have not had a chance to start reading yet, but if you have recommendations, please leave a comment. Since starting seminary my personal reflection and inspirational reading has moved to those that can be read in very short spurts of time (like 10 minutes each morning) rather than slowly devoured word by word over an afternoon.

I may even come back and write many Sunday evenings about how the experience was for me. How slowing down, connecting intentionally with God and the community God has given me — as well as intentionally connecting with myself — feels and how it nourishes my soul.

For tomorrow we already have a few plans, and most of them such as attending church and going swimming at the Y as a family I think fit in well with a day of rest. A few things may need to be altered however, and I am already thinking the day will likely seem extremely short and that the benefits of take such intentional sabbath will come after repeatedly keeping such time set aside as sacred.

Please comment with your own personal experience with sabbath time!

55 minutes to relax (more intentional meandering reflection)

What does a busy seminary student do when told to take 55 minutes specifically to relax? Hmmm, well it varies, but today Shawn and I used it as all the incentive we needed to take the afternoon totally off and hang out downtown.

I’m sitting in the Dubuque library now. Earlier, it was a yarn store while Shawn relaxed in a book store. And first we took time to eat together.

Thankfully our professor is aware that many of us have hit the wall regarding the intensity and emotional exhaustion of our Jterm class after travel to Chicago and Madison to hear speakers who work in some way directly with domestic violence issues. So, today class was done early and we were told to use that 55 minutes to relax! This is a lovely thing.

Right now my mind feels like it’s being pushed and expanded in so many ways and directions, and these is even with very little of the actual information being totally new to me. However, viewing it from a pastoral perspective is new to me. I also seem to keep wondering about the generational and cultural influences of abuse that affect the rest of the culture as well. I particularly think about this as when talking about power and control (and lack of empathy) in domestic violence (including rape) we hear mentioned the impact of patriarchy and colonialism, and it leaves me wondering about the abusive marks left simply by a culture. I include marks left on our men and the challenges of all in navigating through such a world in these wonderings.

In other “trying hard to relax, but not always succeeding” fronts, I keep checking for word from the CPE site I interviewed with this past Monday for any word since I was told they would decide quickly. I remind myself that if I am ever in that interviewer position again I will tell the person it will likely be a long time just to not get their hopes up. 😉

Trying to live in the moment and recover after all of the travel and finding it hard not to fill my to-do list past what will work for such relaxation and renewal. This weekend is primarily about rest and spending time with my 7-year-old after being away from her so much … yet, a long list of other things keeps trying to sneak in.

January is such an “in between month” it finds me almost missing the intentional intensity of the regular semester.

Deep Breaths … first in a series of mid-January 2013 reflections

I am wondering why I still dwell on some things so often.
For example, after someone misinterpreted something about me as
ungrateful I was stunned and although it is months ago I still
dwell on it daily. Yet, I can not sacrifice my authentic self in
order to convince others that I live a life full of gratitude. Even
my grateful self is sometimes tired, exhausted, sad, challenged,
frustrated, and even angry. And, just because I have gone through
much more challenging times in my life does not mean that the work
and stress of going through a full-time Master’s degree program
while also attending to my family is not hard at times, and my
authentic self is going to let others around me know that. It’s
part of me. If my mind is on a particularly hard test or
challenging paper and I trust you / the space enough to share that,
I believe that is a good thing. My life does not seem to grow when
I need to remain guarded. It’s OK to be vulnerable and two of my
biggest goals for 2013 is to work on being more open to
vulnerability and to continue to grow more fully into being and
expressing my authentic self without.

Currently it is Jterm for
Wartburg Seminary students. This year both Shawn* and I are taking
a course on Domestic Violence that includes a trip to Chicago, two
days in Madison, and many local Dubuque speakers as well as
readings to reflect and discuss in class. I will likely bring some
of my reflection here, while others is too personal for the blog.
Before taking the class I heard many students say that it was the
single most useful class for ministry/pastoral care that they took
while in Seminary. I agree. The class has and continues to be very
powerful. We just finished our Chicago and Madison travel this week
(Chicago one week and Madison the next), so at this point we are
exhausted physically and emotionally and yet we keep going. This is
what I imagine ministry to be like at times. We/I need to practice
good self care and spiritual renewal so that I am ready for the
times when I just need to keep on keeping on. Fall 2012 Semester
was like that. It was a good semester in general with the family
maintaining general good health (although Nessa, 7, was/is going
through some challenges including frequent insomnia), and yet, many
days were simply keeping on keeping on days. It may have been
evident from the lack of posts to this blog that some thing was up.
I actually did some amazing things this semester such as start a
Diaconal Minister Facebook group (& now I need to promote
additional activity there), do some work that included interviewing
students and alumni, … and made lots of soup 🙂 But the writing
just would not come in many areas. I came back from summer CPE
simply worn out on writing, especially reflective writing. I am
finding that I now need to become intentional in order to fit it
back into my daily life routine.

Over Christmas vacation I did not
write or read AT ALL but rather rediscovered crafting, particularly
crochet, as well as did A LOT of baking (gluten free bread and
desserts) and cooking (especially soup!). It was wonderful. As was
the family time. I want to hold on to just a bit of that while
returning to this intentional written reflection (& sharing
of the journey) as well as balancing other aspects of wellness.

The
last half of January will be a good time to experiment with all of
this intentionality prior to second semester starting in February.
Today I find myself particularly grateful for my husband and that
he is taking this journey with me. It has been a challenge but more
often a huge blessing to share classes together along this seminary
journey. Love and belief — and official Happy 2013 (just a little
belated 😉

*For new readers, my husband, Shawn, is also a full-time
student, but in the MDiv program. You can follow his journey at
leavingmyselfbehind.wordpress.com

quick update & thankful at this moment update list

First my apologies for anyone I owe an email, call or visit! This summer was even more intense and exhausting than I imagined, and my only non-CPE priority was my family (as in my daughters and my husband), and in that regard I think we did OK. However, my dream of connecting with other La Crosse area friends or extended family was dashed by the first week of CPE. 🙂

So, both Shawn and I not only survived CPE but did indeed also pass the CPE unit. Our CPE experiences were very different and yet we each learned what we needed to (although we are both still processing as well). It was even kind of hard to leave the hospital and those I had let myself be called to serve (my “favorite” was the in-patient psychiatric unit and I am looking for additional training in this area), when we had to say goodbye the week of August 10th. As good as it is to be back to Wartburg I am already thinking about a Chaplain residency (3 or 4 more CPE units) for next year (while Shawn is on his Internship year). I am also in the midst of trying to figure out my Diaconal MInistry fieldwork, but that is a another post …

I hope to have time to reflect on CPE more here, but right now I am in the midst of trying to conquer my Endorsement essay as part of the ELCA candidacy process. Shawn and I both have to have this important essay written by Sept. 1st. In the meantime we also got our daughter, Nessa, off to her first couple of days of 2nd grade here in Dubuque (Megan has her high school registration next Wed. as she starts high school in La Crescent, MN after Labor Day).

I stumbled upon this free (nook) ebook the other day: Spiritual Practices for Happiness and it reminded me about the practice of being grateful, and then that I hadn’t been following through as much as I planned to publicly share my gratitude with all of you!

So, here goes my current, very quick, top ten thankful list!

1. Shawn took Nessa to her chiropractor apt. today (yes, little and yet oh so big)

2. That we are HOME!!! (really my home is wherever my family is so home is multiple places right now, but this house here at Wartburg is my home where my heart can thrive and oh how I missed it and this community this summer!)

3. for this community! It’s so good to see not only my classmates but also the professors and others.

4. for our parents in helping Nessa to survive this summer. IF there is one person the summer was hardest on, it was her. Hopefully she will recover soon so that we can fully recover.

5. for my fabulous teenager, Megan! She not only helped with Nessa and guided her with doing chores this summer, she was ready to hang out for mom & Megan time when my scheduled allowed and I rarely had to stress about her behavior, etc. … if having a teen is like this, I LOVE it!

6. for my health … when it’s always “on the edge” so to speak (auto-immune disease can be like that) I remember to be grateful for what I have & the ability to make it better with my behavior … leading us to

7. YOGA … and specifically the hot yoga I did this summer as my scheduled allowed … now to find a place in Dubuque that I can practice yoga to help maintain my health and wellness

8. my kitchen … and a family to cook for!

9. my church … both of them 🙂 (it was good to be able to have a little time to reconnect with Good Shepherd this summer and I am blessed to have a wonderful church home here as well).

10. my husband! … not only did he survive the summer with me, we are reconnecting for a blessed fall and school year.

Justification and Justice

This assignment was the culmination of one of our Fall (1 seminary semester) classes. I did not edit it from the actual assignment I turned in.

Justification & Justice

Justification is what God does for us through Christ’s death on the cross and resurrection. We can speak of what justification means to the world in multiple ways, including the common phrases of “forgiveness of sins” and “reconciliation of sinners to God” as well as creating a new reality where humanity is restored to right relationship with God and other humans. These descriptions of what happened on the cross are all part of restoring life in the midst of death and brokenness. This work of God, or justification, is God’s free gift to all humans. We call this universal free gift grace.

We are justified by grace alone through faith alone. Faith is our response to God’s grace, and how we individually participate in this universal grace. Faith, as trust in God’s promises of Jesus Christ, is also the link between justification and justice. Faith becomes active in love. When we act in love—based on that trust—we participate in God’s struggle to restore life. That is, our living out of our faith is our participation in justice.

Scripture proclaims the gift of grace and our faith response of love. Paul says in Romans 4.25 that Christ has been “handed over to death for our trespasses and was raised for our justification.” Ephesians 2.8 proclaims “ For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” And in Galatians 5.6b we hear “the only thing that counts is faith working through love.” In Micah 6:8 we also see God’s intention of humans living out justice in actions of love: “He has told you o mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? “

God’s word creates a new reality, and our faith gives us a vision of this new reality. When we act differently because of being freed by God’s love to truly love others, seeing them also as individuals Christ died for, we are living fully what God created us to be. Thus justification restored humanity to live in justice as we live lives in right relationship to God and others.

All Bible references are from New Revised Standard Version

Works Consulted
Closely read the following readings:
Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification. The Lutheran World Federation and The Roman Catholic Church. English-Language Edition. Grand Rapids: Wm. Eerdmans, 1999, pp. 5-47 (43 pages)

Altmann, W. Luther and Liberation, 13-55 (43 pages)

Braaten, C. E. Justification By Faith, 81-99 (19 pages)

Lull, T. ed. Luther, “The Blessed Sacrament of the Holy and True Body of Christ, and the Brotherhood” (1591), pp. 242-266; “Freedom of a Christian” (1529), 585-629 (45 pages)

Lutheran-Catholic Dialogue, Vol. VII, Justification By Faith, The Consensus Statement, 58-74 (17 pages)

Persaud, W. D., “The Article of Justification and the Theology of Liberation,” Currents, 1989, 361-371 (11 pages)

Also read/consulted these readings:
Luther’s Works, Vol. 27, Lectures on Galatians (1519), 381-394 (14 pages)

Luther’s Works, Vol. 31, “Two Kinds of Righteousness,” 293-306, in Lull, T. ed. Luther, 149-165 (17 pages)