Odd ways in which seminary learning is useful….

I have just completed a grueling two weeks of writing three essays, with a combined page count of 48 pages, for two classes. One was on the Sacred and Secular in Islam and how Muslim/Christian dialogue can proceed when Islam is a state-sanctioned religion; one was on a Bible passage in the Gospel of Matthew; and one was on the doctrines of God and salvation in Schleiermacher’s Christian Faith.

Volunteers preparing the food pantry selections at St. Paul and St. James
Then, on a break from studying for my two exams in New Testament and Transitional Moments in Christian History, I volunteered at the Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry at St. Paul’s and St. James’ Church in New Haven. Because I know some Spanish, it’s my job to help with registering the clients coming for a bag of groceries. About a third of them are Spanish speakers.

Today, it was very cold outside, so we had a slightly smaller crowd, and the man sitting next to me asked me what the differences were between all the denominations. (He’s a former Catholic turned nondenominational charismatic church worshipper.)

It turned out that he had a pretty thorough knowledge of church history, the 10th century requirement of celibacy for Catholic clergy, the Reformation, and so on. I filled in what I could and was amazed that seminary knowledge could be used for something other than a final exam or the General Ordination Examinations, coming up in 2.5 years for me. He was genuinely interested in why some Protestants considered sacraments very important, and others didn’t.

Meanwhile, we handed out 140 bags of groceries and kept people warm in the church basement with coffee for a brief hour and a half. It’s hard to be homeless in a northern state in the winter. Fortunately, this church also has a clothes closet ministry, and the clothes closet was chock full of secondhand coats but in desperate need of mittens and gloves. As one whose fingertips crack and bleed in the cold weather, I hurt for those who have no gloves… And I am so grateful to be warm, well fed, and amply clothed in the winter.

God bless! Gott segne euch!

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