Christianity and Literature… Christianity and Flannery O’Connor rather.
In January, I took a two-week intensive course at the seminary. This seven-week class was given in two weeks. It’s titled, “Christianity and Literature.” The literature was selected writings from Flannery O’Connor. She is an American writer, a Southern writer, from the mid-twentieth century. Her writings are… original, or unique, and she likes it that way.
I have finished my first “quartester,” my first of four sets of classes for this school year. The three classes I have completed are, (1) a psalms class where we take a closer look message of select Psalms, (2) a class about the fifth century early church father, Cyril of Alexandria and his 700 page commentary on the Gospel of John, which yes we read the whole thing, (3) and a sermon writing class where we explored how to include types of personalities into delivering a sermon, especially those which are not native to my own personality. Thankfully most of the homework was completed at the beginning of the last week of those classes as many friends from my hometown were worried about their own home. That was Monday, October 9th.
I’ve made it to my fourth year of seminary education. I remember applying to my undergraduate school, Concordia University Irvine for the pre-seminary degree and thinking that I was out of my mind. However, God has kept me going forward in my formation as to being a pastor. And now as I am getting closer to completing my Master of Divinity degree at the seminary, we are celebrating the 500th year of the Reformation.
When I was walking through an art museum at Washington DC, I happened to see a statue of David from the Bible story. The Bible tells of how at his youth he was a shepherded. And in this statue, David is holding a shepherd’s staff alongside a lamb. I thought, how precious. Then in the next room, I saw another statue of David. This time David had his foot on the head of Goliath. With this one, I thought, how brutal. Then I walked on to another room.
My 52-week service as the vicar, the intern pastor, of Hanover is now completed. There is so much I have learned, and there is so much I that has shaped me through this ministry experience. Much of it is done through the shadowing under my pastoral supervisor, the pastor of Hanover. Yet, at the same time, the people of the congregation also provide care and support as I serve them with the help of God. I could tell of all the fun and amazing things I have been a part of at Hanover, but I think you can get the idea through one example. That one example would be the Monday night Bible study.
Jesus is risen. He has risen indeed. Alleluia. As a church, as believers in Christ, every Spring season we remember Jesus Christ who has risen from the grave. Not only do we remember that is Jesus alive but that we are still waiting for his return to this Earth to bring his people everlasting home. And as Ascension Day is coming soon, we remember that after Jesus arose from the grave, he also ascended into the heavens, kind of like Elijah, and is sitting at the right hand of God the Father.
It’s February here in Cape Girardeau. I said to one of the parishioners, “I hear it’s been a mild February winter.” They replied, “It feels more like spring.” I said, “Though I am from California, I am not praying for a mild winter.” I am enjoying it though. I was told though that the snow any still show up anytime before Easter. The groundhog apparently saw his shadow, so maybe there will be six weeks snow ahead of us.
As the year 2016 is coming to an end, I’m almost half way through my vicarage. At Hanover, I’ve learned a lot about serving as a pastor, and yet I know there is so much more to learn. Not only are the parts of worship service important, but also special events where people are getting together and being there for each other in the name of Jesus Christ is a huge part of ministry as well. I know that all that I’m going through will prepare me for the ministry that is ahead of me.
It’s already been two months since I have been at Hanover Lutheran Church in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. As far as I know, it’s the only Hanover Lutheran Church out there. I dare you to prove me wrong. The people who first planted the congregation in Cape Girardeau was from the German lands in 1846. They had arrived in America several years before the leaders who organized the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod had arrived.