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Hanover, Here I Come

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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Hanover, Here I Come

What a year! I have completed my second intense year at Concordia Seminary. So what does the future hold for my four-year program? Well, the third year I will be serving my vicarage, my internship. I have been blessed with the privilege of serving my vicarage at Hanover Lutheran Church in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. I can’t wait to get there after my summer activities with my friends and family.

Friends and family activities? Yes! My cheerful younger sister, Alaura, will be married to a strong-minded and muscularly strong man, and also a good friend of mine, Cody. Another good friend of mine, James, who I have known since high school, will be marrying his high school sweetheart Traci. And then there will be those who are celebrating their marriages. My grandparents will be celebrating a happy sixty years of marriage. I am looking forward to this two-month summer break as a time to catch up on what is new with my friends in my hometown Windsor, California.

After my hometown activities comes my 52-week vicarage with Hanover Lutheran Church. This congregation is located about 100 miles south of the seminary. They have a history that goes way back. They go all the way back to the nineteenth century, and the early establishers of The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod. Not only is their history abundant, but so is their church fellowship. I had the opportunity to visit the congregation for a Sunday, and the rumors are true. They are some of the most welcoming and friendly group of people I’ll ever meet. Before I entered the door, Lynn welcomed me showed me the room where the Bible study will be held. The people love learning about what God has done for his people. Not only was Pastor Tony’s guidance, inspiring, but so was the responses from the people who had filled the room. This same fellowship will also be found in Handover’s Sunday worship. The air is filled with praises to God and thanks for his plan of salvation for us. The whole church works together as one tight family. It is an amazing thing to see. And I will be privileged to serve this congregation and learn from them for a whole year right after their fourteenth vicar, Vicar Sam, is finished with his term. And speaking of learning, if I don’t know what the country life was like before serving this friendly group of people, I will by the time my term is up. Stay tuned in my following letters for the adventures that I will have to share.

As for this last academic quarter, I had the joy of teaching kindergarteners for three weeks. It has been a long time since I have been in kindergarten. But with the help of a curriculum book, I was equipped to teach the children stories from the Bible. I was free to use a variety of resources such as children’s books, building cubes, crafts, and a relatively new piece of technology called a smartboard. After my three weeks, I was impressed with how sharp the students were in their biblical studies. I had fun spending this time getting into the mind of a kindergartner.

In my world religions class, I was able to gain a perspective what it is like to become a Christian in a community that does not tolerate Christianity and how to minister to them. For those in the eastern part of the world such as the continent of Asia, their social structure is shaped in a type of shame culture. Americans generally live in a guilt culture, like the rest of those who are living in the west. In a shame culture, a way to punish a person is to sever any relationship that person has with their family or perhaps even their entire neighborhood. So someone who was raised in Buddhist family could be separated from their family if they choose to follow a different faith, such as Christianity. Nevertheless, many are willing to trade the consequences in exchange for the hope, joy and peace that comes through the Good News of Jesus Christ and his everlasting promises.

Another class I enjoyed taught about the development and history of Christianity in America for the last three hundred years. John Edwards, a man from the eighteenth century, had a revolutionary idea. He believed that because the Holy Spirit works through Christians to do good work for the glory of God, then Christians could work a community together in a democratic manner rather than a monarchy. This concept also allowed the people to express their religion in freedom. And this freedom also allowed people to experiment with different ways of expressing their worship to God. This religious development has made an impact over the whole world.

In another class, I learned about Isaiah, the prophet, and his book. Isaiah prophesied to God’s people letting them know that judgment and exile are coming for their bad deeds. However, the people were encouraged to take hope in that God will redeem his people and is sending a servant to bear their sins for them. Isaiah 53:5-6 describes this servant:

He was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

What an amazing God that even when we fail to do what he asks of us, God sends his son Jesus Christ to bear our burdens and our sins for us so that we may be called God’s Children. Want an amazing love.

Another amazing thing is how well this year’s fundraising went. I want to again thank all those who have financially supported me for my education for school. 89% of my $37,000 goal has been gifted to me for my education. The rest of my expenses have been paid through my part-time job. Your support reminds me that I am not alone on this journey. Your support has been an encouragement for me to make the most of my time and studies here at the seminary.

School Year 2015-2016

Sylvan had 89% of his $37,000 goal funded.

Because of my internship for the upcoming school year, my fundraising for next year will look a bit different. But the following school year will look familiar, for I will be back in St. Louis at the Seminary. I'll keep you posted about this matter through my future letters.

Though the graduation of May of 2018 may sound a bit far away, I know it will come faster than I anticipate it. This year was a whirlwind in itself. I look forward to seeing how God will use me in ways greater than I can imagine, and I thank you for being a part of it.

God’s blessings,
Sylvan Finger