Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Looking Ahead

Over the weekend Chris and I were blessed to attend LSTC’s Senior Capstone Retreat. Thanks to the Tithing and Stewardship Foundation, students completing their final year on campus were invited out to Schaumburg for a weekend of preparing for parish life, reflecting on stewardship, and connecting with classmates once more before we are scattered across the country.

There were plenty of invaluable moments. We heard from a representative at the ELCA Board of Pensions who explained the health and retirement benefits for ELCA clergy; his words were a relief, especially for those of us longtime students, that life might actually be sustainable – financially, physically, emotionally, ethically – after seminary. We heard from worship professor Mark Bangert, who turned the idea of stewardship on its head by placing it in the context of a “Eucharistic economy” of gratitude for God’s plentiful gifts and an intentional distribution so that everyone has enough, and nevermind that such an economy might just be at odds sometimes with that other one we read about in the newspapers. And there were others who spoke of family life and others who broke down church finances and others who simply shared their memories and stories of their first years in the parish.

But some of the most valuable time, of course, was the time we students spent together. We updated each other on where we were at in first call processes, shared our budding hopes and nagging fears, wondered aloud what the future might hold… and laughed as often as possible.

Soon we will cease to be classmates and begin to be colleagues, and when we do, the relationships we are building now will, I can only hope, be a source of strength and encouragement, a continuing and powerful sign of the presence of Christ walking alongside us, wherever we might go.

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