Thursday, January 19, 2006

In the Dryness of the Season

     I took a course called “Ministry and the Imagination” this week, which turned out (at least so far) to be a wonderfully worthwhile experience.  As part of the writing studio I was taking, we were asked to write new hymn lyrics to a familiar tune. I wrote the following song, which was very well received by the group, and so I thought I’d share it. I set it to the tune called “Beach Spring”, which most of you would be familiar from a hymn like “Come and Find the Quiet Center”.

In the Dryness of the Season
By Benjamin Davis

“Those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life."- John 4:14

Verse 1

In the dryness of the season,
When God’s love seems turned away,
When our passion and our vision,
Fade away in desert haze,

In the heat God seeks and molds us,
Cries the tears that soothe our pain,
Comes to lift us when we falter,
So we’ll walk and run again.

Verse 2

God remains our faithful parent,
Will refresh, our souls sustain,
Soaked in water, spirit-cleansing,     
Sending down a healing rain.

In God’s love we rest and linger,
Claiming joy that God imparts,
Living water births the Spirit,
Flowing deep within our hearts.

Verse 3

In this place God’s rushing Spirit,
Softly ripples, waits today,
Will we find that stream of water,
Will we love or turn away?

To a world that’s dry and barren,
Filled with hate and parched with need,
Can we find and gently guide it,
To that well, life to receive

Copyrighted January 2006.

Friday, January 06, 2006

My Last Two Months

     I was utterly amazed to find out how well read my very underwritten blog is. I have been harassed, e-mailed, lectured, and scolded by people across the nation (quite literally) about my entirely too laissez (perhaps we should say lazy)- faire attitude towards updating regularly. To this end, I hereby promise (for about the fourteenth time) that I will start updating regularly, with a regular digest of quotes, amusing episodes, insightful reflections, and heartfelt remembrances, so as to appease my reading masses. Furthermore, if at any point I waver from this goal, I hereby give you all permission to e-mail, call, or blackmail me if necessary.

     With that being said, a lot has happened since my post a couple of months ago. My semester ended, and, so far, very successfully. My grades are better than they’ve been at any point I can remember and I even had some time to relax even during finals weeks, which is quite remarkable. Other than Old Testament final night, in which I got to see the beginnings of what I’m sure was a remarkable sunrise around 4:30 AM after about 14 straight hours of work, it was a fairly easy process.

     Life at Drew is good, although I am coming to a fuller realization of the weaknesses of my community. Most particularly, I came to realize that if I simply trusted the seminary process and did my best, I would be a very well equipped chaplaincy style minister, perfectly suitable for a church in the 1950’s. Seminary education will not give me tools that I need to be transformative- it will not teach me about methods for evaluating congregational health, working with small groups, evangelizing, visioning, running meetings, or encouraging discipleship, even as it gives me an excellent background in academics and in pastoral care.

     Perhaps this points to one of the reasons why our clergy quality is so poor in New England. Not only are many of our pastors burnt out, but their training is literally half a century old. If our clergy are to become effective, I believe that our seminaries will have significantly reform their course of study to emphasize practical parish ministry, group dynamics, spiritual growth, personal self awareness, and congregational dynamics. *steps off soapbox*

     One semester at Drew also makes me realize that liberals can be every bit as intolerant as people of any other ideology. It has disappointed me to watch some of my classmates drop one belief that they blindly held onto (e.g. the historical church has always been the sole correct possessor of the truth) just to blindly pick up another (e.g. the historical church has always been a close-minded parochial oppressor). Furthermore, while the school emphasizes racial and cultural diversity, they ignore and even repress ideological diversity. Professors, students, and even one dean have made the assumption that the school speaks with one monolithic voice on issues such as white privilege, homosexuality, the role of scripture, and social justice. Furthermore, they also often imply that those who disagree with them are close-minded, bigoted, racist, and generally inferior Christians. I am thankful that there are many people, especially in my class, who are far more open-minded and can hopefully change the somewhat bigoted liberal attitude that my school sometimes exhibits over the course of these next few years.

     In other exciting news, I attended the wedding of a college friend, Megan Burd. It was a pleasure to be able to support her and catch up with some old time Colby College friends. It was refreshing to see such an explicitly spiritual and dignified wedding- rather than focusing on pageantry, it focused on the purpose of a Christian wedding- which, in my mind, is for two people to make a covenant between themselves and God in the sight of their entire community. What a beautiful sight!

     All right, that’s enough for now. Enjoy your January and keep in touch!