Seminary is intense. At least, for one who’s trying to catch up with the second year students and squeeze as much from readings, lectures, and office hours as possible, it’s busy, challenging, and thrilling. Blogging won’t take time from of our church involvement (which is growing) or our jobs/classes (which are getting heated), so it has taken the only seat left, which happens to be in the back.
However, we had a moving seminary-wide prayer chapel today, that I’m open to sharing with you, but mostly want to process and memorialize for my own heart. The time of Scripture reading, singing, and prayer was all the more poignant because of this season’s intensity, and it was a vital reminder of God’s preeminence in my life.
I walked down the hill to our apartment with three snapshots:
- Walking in late, I caught the end of Dr. Lintz’s introductory remarks: “…would we rediscover our identity in the presence of God.” How easily we–especially those of us full-time focusing on theology, ministry, etc.–forget that we are not working toward a good enough understanding to be with God. Rather, we have been brought near to God by Christ and that relationship gives us value and meaning. In seminary, it’s easy to forget that the presence of God is not something to be dissected, it is something to be acknowledged and received.
- Partway through, we were given a few minutes to sit silently, open to the voice of the Lord. God’s “speaking” is much debated across the church, and this all quickly bubbled into a verbal question in my mind, the moment we were released to listen: “Who am I to presume upon the Lord.” An answer immediately followed, and here I feel no need to distinguish between the Holy Spirit and theological cognition: “You are my son.” Without the gracious favor of God, everything we do would be presumption in his universe, but as sons and daughters of the Living God, we are invited into a much more glorious life.
- Toward the end, we had a time of prayer for the nations. A Powerpoint ran up front, each slide presenting a country’s name, a picture, and a couple prayer requests. We had about 20 seconds with each country, and prayed in the South Korean style, with everyone praying out loud at once. It was easier to pray for some countries than others; my words caught as we prayed for countries rife with slavery or rape. It took me a few moments to recover digest my immediate sadness, and pray grieving prayers. I was shocked, however, by my reaction to the slide the read, “Japan.” I don’t know what prayer requests the Student Justice Association picked for that country, because as soon as I slide came up, I just hung my head and wept. I grieve for the lostness of Japan. I grieve that there is so little gospel light there, for the waves of disillusionment and suicide. I am so sad for my ancestors’ country, and I could only bring a wordless prayer. Even this was an important reminder, that the substance of our faith is not essays and philosophy, it is the true growth of the Kingdom of God.
Given a few moments to pray with the people next to us, my request of God is that my learning would not pull me away from prayer. As Andrew James, our student body president of sorts, reminded us: We do not want seminary to be a transactional experience; we want it to be a transformational one. If you think of me, pray for me, that in these two years I would not simply learn more about God, but that I would be drawn closer to him day by day.