Monday, September 26, 2005

My First-Month-At-Drew ABC’s

A is for my Apologies for not posting more frequently!
B is for letting Melissa and her housemates Borrow my television and in turn let me Borrow their cable on Sunday afternoons for Patriots games.
C is for Cliff Ives and Grace Bartlett, the new wonderful interim pastors at my home church.
D is for Dana Fewell, the brilliant professor of my Intro to Old Testament Class, who has inspired, challenged, and stimulated me more than any other professor during the first month at Drew.
E is for all the wonderful E-mails I’ve received from people back home.
F is for Farrah Willis, Natalie Finch, Sara Wastella, Matt Goode, Matt Goad, Beth Underwood, Sister Shane, Susan, and all the other wonderful classmates I have met so far.
G is for Grace Episcopal Church, the church that I plan to attend for the next year.
H is for my Homes in Amesbury, MA and in Augusta, ME, both of which I miss greatly.
I is for the Incompetent Drew administration, which seems to find new creative ways to make its students lives unnecessarily annoying every day.
J is for Jonah, the great satiric book of the Bible, featuring a suicidal, unenthusiastic, yet wildly successful runaway prophet.
K is for Koine Greek (common Greek), which is the Greek used in the New Testament. This is the equivalent of common American speech. So, when we think Paul is “sending greetings”, what he’s really saying is “Yo! Waz’ up dog?”
L is for Melissa’s Lame suggestion for this letter, namely “L is for how much I like seminary!”
M is for Melissa Yosua, my best friend, significant other, and fellow seminarian, who has made my experience so much more fulfilling then it would have been otherwise
N is for New Jersey, the state where everyone needs to return to driver’s ed.
O is for Ocean Grove, where I had a wonderful retreat after the first week of school.
P is for all the Pressing responsibilities that I no longer have!
Q is for all the Quiet times I’ve been able to find in the midst of my easier-than-normal schedule.
R is for the blessing of Rest, which this workaholic-in-recovery if finally finding.
S is for Professor Seesengood, my witty New Testament Greek teacher.
T is for the Two weeks between now and when I get to return home (both of them!).
U is for the Ups and downs of the first month of school as I’ve tried to find my feet and get into a routine.
V is for Verizon, which has yet to turn on the internet in my house.
W is for the quiet ten minutes it takes me to Walk to campus from my house.
X is for how eXtremely contrived this list is becoming as I’m running out of letters.
Y is for Yung-Tek Bae, my Korean housemate and Brother in Christ, who is a wonderful seminarian and will be a wonderful minister of the Gospel.
Z is for the Zillion and a half vocabulary words that I have to memorize for Greek this week.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

My Adventures at Drew Begin (Part Two)

Simple hospitality can make a world of difference. My second day at Drew, I met one of my Korean housemates, Yun-Tek Bae. He is a first year student from Korea who is in the United States for the first time, and, if that wasn’t enough, is speaking English outside of a classroom for the first time as well.

I was making dinner that night, and asked him to join me. We talked for nearly two and half hours, discussing our lives, politics, our cultures, and the ministry, despite the language barrier. It was an absolutely magical experience.

He told me how blessed he felt to have made a friend so quickly, but I’m certain that he couldn’t have felt as blessed as I did. For me, that conversation was the most spiritual experience I’ve had so far at Drew.

It’s easy to forgot how showing hospitality transforms and blesses us. When we think of service, often we associate it with drudgery, lack of recognition, self sacrifice, and perhaps burnout. However, when we truly serve for Christ’s sake, rather than for our own satisfaction, we are transformed.

Please think about this every Sunday morning when you’re comfortably sitting in church. Every time you see a visitor, think about the tremendous courage it takes to go to any new community of faith. The visitors you see are worshipping with people they don’t know (but who obviously know and love each other), are singing unfamiliar songs, and are learning an uncomfortable set of rituals. They are literally foreigners in a foreign land.

It is easy to assume (especially if you’re from Green Street), that someone else will come up to them, say hi, and make them feel welcome. However, if we are serious about showing hospitality, then hospitality can never be something that other people do for us. Take a moment to put yourself in their shoes. Say hi, and find out their story. Don’t just have a conversation, establish a friendship. Show them around the church, introduce them to other people, make them feel included in the community. After all, when you minister to the stranger, you are ministering to Christ in your midst.

My Adventures at Drew Begin (Part One)

For all (one) of you who have been eagerly awaiting my first post on my life at Drew, please accept my somewhat sincere apologies- it’s busy being a seminary student! Now that I can finally get into a routine, I’ll try to catch up in a few installments over the next couple days.

On the whole, my first week at Drew went the way that a standard incoming seminarian’s should: I moved into my room in the house that I’m sharing with four other people, met a couple of my housemates, and waited (patiently and sometimes not so patiently) for orientation to start.

When moving to a new place, simple thoughtfulness or thoughtlessness can make a world of difference. I’ll start with one negative example.

Melissa, my significant other, (and yes, I prefer that term to girlfriend, which sounds so fifteen to me, (with my apologies to all the fifteen year olds reading this blog)), had an awful time moving into Drew. Housing couldn’t find her a place to stay, and after finding her a room about two weeks later than they said they would, didn’t bother to send out housing forms and so gave her housing information only a week and a half before she was supposed to move in.

When she finally arrived, she found out that her apartment was filthy. Her dresser was missing a drawer (she only received a new one yesterday, after her third call to the Physical Plant Department), one room didn’t have a bed, and the entire place was unswept. The small kitchen was disgusting (it took me an hour and a half to clean five cupboards because of all the grime), the oven was unusable, and there was only one overhead light in the entire space, which meant that her room and the common area became unusably dark by 7:00PM.

This made her first few days at Drew unbearably stressful, as she had to worry about cleaning her apartment, harassing housing about sending furniture, trying to find lights for her room, moving in her belongings, starting orientation, and getting used to the foreign land of New Jersey.

I don’t believe that this lack of hospitality was intentional. However, it implies that Drew didn’t care enough about their students to make sure that their arrivals at Drew were as smooth as possible…(to be continued tomorrow)