Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Hopes and Concerns

When I was applying to seminary a couple months ago and came across this prompt: "Austin Seminary understands itself to be a seminary of the church of Jesus Christ. In a brief essay (1 page, double-spaced) please state your hopes and concerns for the church," this is what I wrote:

Though the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. is only a small piece of the mosaic that is the “church of Jesus Christ,” I have chosen to address a hope and concern through the lens of my own faith tradition while understanding that it is a challenge for all traditions. My hope is that as the PC(USA) continues to struggle with discerning God’s call concerning difficult questions (e.g. the ordination of homosexuals), above all, its members remember the importance of their own call to remain in community with one another. My resulting concern is that if we fail to work for God’s will as a diverse, loving community, we will splinter into smaller groups that simply affirm what we already believe and cease to challenge one another to grow.

To use the aforementioned example, the arguments for and against ordaining homosexuals tend to be both passionate and personal. This results in people’s fears keeping them from genuinely listening to each other, and particularly to those who they disagree with. Listening to one another and scripture is one of the most important aspects of being in a faith community; the humbling act of listening affirms our respect for one other, challenges our own beliefs, and empowers all. This process of listening and evaluating our own theological beliefs offers an exciting opportunity for spiritual growth as a community. If faith communities abandon the call to actively listen to all voices and divide into the seductive comfort of sectarian groups, they lose the opportunity to have their faith challenged and reformed by varied perspectives.

So as the PC(USA) and other faith traditions passionately discern where God is calling them, I pray everyone realizes the importance and beauty in listening to each other out of love and continues to wrestle with the questions that seem daunting, but in the end, strengthen all. Otherwise, I fear this gift will be lost and the opportunity for spiritual growth will be limited as people simply surround themselves with their personal “Yes!” men and women.

1 comment:

  1. A)Your writing has improved significantly since undergrad, props John, props.
    B) How daring! I love it.
    C) I like the way you posted an essay as an attempted "update."
    D) Miss you kid.