It’s the end of the semester, assignments are due, I’m preparing for a major move next month, and life is crazy. And yet as I’m sitting here, I’m struck by the feeling that this seminary has been a really great place to be. There’s lots of reasons why, lots and lots, but you’re busy (and I’m procrastinating on a paper for Job), so here are just five that have been brought to mind through events of only the past week:
1) The professors make the Bible come alive.
Example: this morning in Hebrew we brought in our translations of Amos 5:21-24. Turns out the prophet is even more prophet-y in the original language!
Verse 24 in the NRSV:
But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.
Verse 24, working translation, down and dirty Hebrew to English:
But let roll along like the waters judgment/justice [same word in Hebrew: mishpat] and righteousness like an ever-flowing torrent/wadi.
Verse 24, cleaned-up version after class discussion:
But let God’s judgment, which brings forth justice, roll down like water, and let righteousness flood the dry river-beds like an everlasting torrent.
In other words, it’s the difference between:
The Bible just gets more like an Indiana Jones movie every day I’m in seminary. It’s wonderful.
2) The professors’ sense of humor.
Last night, our History of Lutheranism professor, Dr. Erling, presided at evening Eucharist. During the Children’s Time, she introduced to them a strange conflation of St. Nicholas and Belschnickel–she included the tradition about leaving your shoes out for St. Nicholas to fill with treats, but inexplicably left out the part where Belschnickel beats the bad children with a stick. She had the kids put their shoes in the back of the sanctuary, where secret assistants filled them before the service let out.
So afterwards, of course, we mature adult students felt a scholarly need to research whether this would work with us, too. So we put our shoes outside her office.
AND IT DID!
We were just as delighted as the children! My understanding is that Dr. Erling saw the shoes, started laughing, and went back to her house for goodies to fill them. I got a pick handclapper and a chocolate coin!! (I have already broken the handclapper through overexcited use brought on by the sugar rush from the candy. It’s exactly like Christmas morning.)
3) The love of both hymnody and humor flourishes here…at the same time!
Since I started seminary back in February ’11, I’ve been a member of the magnificent Mother Schmuckers, the seminary’s all-female a cappella group. That means that when I get a song stuck in my head, there’s a whooooole group of people who can get together to help sing it! They also dork out with me over different kinds of music, help write parodies, and coordinate choreography (JAZZ HANDS!) to “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.”
4) An amazing community.
On the very day I was feeling a little overwhelmed and too tired to cook dinner, my neighbor knocked at my door and said, “Hey! I’m making mac and cheese. Want some?” And before I knew it, the magic of potluck as happened and we had a three course meal and it was delicious and life was soooo much better.
I haven’t even mentioned my helpful neighbors that regularly steal my dog and give him things to do, like avoid being hugged, destroy chew toys, and taste-test homemade dog treats.
5) An active, supportive, creative worship environment.
I got to lead worship this Monday in the seminary chapel for the first time! Not only did the Dean of the Chapel let me tweak the liturgy and do something different, but on the SAME DAY he let me introduce a new hymn. And I got help on it from the chapel cantor, a professional musician with a formidable beard who not only made my music look good and is going to use it in his own Celtic worship service, but totally made my day by typing an unexpected “my bad” into an email discussing eighth note rests.
I am blessed indeed. 🙂