It's official, I have turned in my final papers, and today I returned the many library books I still had out...I am done with my seminary degree. Now, mind you, I still have to pass my final papers...but I'm not too worried about that.
I'm still not sure how I feel about being done. I'm not sure if I really understand that I'm done. If nothing else, right now I'm grateful to have a lot more time on my plate, not just for my job and those responsibilities, but for the other parts of my life that have been suffering. For instance, I've gone a little crazy decorating for Christmas. The other night, Jon came home and just started laughing at me as I was trying to find space for just about every Christmas-themed decoration, napkin, and dish that we had. Don't worry, I didn't succeed :)
And since I'm done, for the next few weeks most of my extra time and attention is going (or at least, should be going) to commissioning paperwork. In working on some questions, I was looking back at some class notes from my Studies in Wesley course this fall. One thing from the first day stuck out, and I think it's a good summation of how I feel about my time at Perkins. I've heard that some people in my conference aren't a huge fan of Perkins, because they don't teach you how to love Jesus, or that this is the most important thing you can do in ministry. First, I don't think that's true at all. But what my professor said about how Perkins functions I think sums it up real well.
He was talking about how people always ask the question, is this place liberal, or conservative? He said that Perkins provides a liberal arts presentation, whereby you are presented with a variety of material, and it's up to you to decide what to do with it. You decide how the information fits into your theology. You decide if it works into your understanding of ministry, and that understanding is hopefully formed by the academic work you've done throughout your time here. They don't tell you what to think, they encourage you to create your own thoughts, informed by a variety of theologies and information. And I think that's a pretty good way to go.
I don't know if I'm ready to be done, if only for the reason that I think there's still so much I have to learn. But I am oh-so-grateful for my time down here in Dallas, for the people we've met, for the support we've been shown both down here and from friends, family, and churches back home in Iowa. I am grateful that God somehow brought me down this path and enlightened my understanding of God's work in this world in ways I never could have imagined. In many ways, I think I was called to seminary before I was called to ministry, but through my time in seminary and the people here, I have recognized (and responded to more fully) a call to sacramental ordained ministry. And if that's the only thing I got out of seminary (which I know it's not!!) then I guess that's an okay thing :)
So thanks to you (if you're reading this I am assuming you've provided support for me in some way shape or form!), I made it. And thanks to God, it was great. Now, on to the next thing....