Friday, December 28, 2012


Vocation is a funny thing. I have not written much about how I went from full-time homemaker to systematic theologian. Someday I may do that. In the meantime, God continues to surprise me. The latest surprise – Indonesia – is only a week away and I am getting a little nervous.

When I first sensed God’s call to continue my education in seminary, I agreed to give it a try but my husband made me promise that under no circumstances would we have to move to some “strange” part of the world. You see, I have always been interested in missions, and he knew it; thus the promise. But the truth is, I am not all that adventurous.

Now, nearly 15 years later, I am about to finish my sabbatical by spending a few weeks at a seminary in Indonesia. A friend of mine had asked me to come and teach. I declined several years in a row but at some point, I got the sense that this was not just a favor for a friend, but something God was calling me to do. So this year, I said yes.

And I guess the funny thing about vocation – God calling – is that it is so unpredictable. That scares me sometimes. I’m not the least bit sure I am equipped for the task I am being called to. But somehow, God always takes my submission to his unexpected call and makes something even more unexpected out of it. Often, this “something more” directly benefits others.

But sometimes, the benefit is more indirect. You see, the call sometimes involves something painful. I don’t really see the benefit to me or to anyone else. But over time, I see that the painful parts of the call shape me into someone who is better equipped to fulfill that very same call. But more about that later.

I am off on this new adventure. And I have a hunch I will learn WAY more than I am going to teach.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Tragedy and God

What does one say after the murders of this past week?

How do we wrap our minds around the terrorists all around us, terrorists who kill their own mothers and numerous little children?

But even more perplexing, how do we think about God in relation to an event such as this? And during Advent no less.

How do we sing, as I did just an hour ago, “Praise God from whom all blessings flow…”, when we see tragedy such as this around us?

And please don’t give me the theological “answers” right now. I know the options in that department better than most people. Its my job, after all.

This, of course, is the age-old problem of evil. If God is all-powerful, completely in control, holds all things in his hands, how can a tragedy like the one in Newtown, Connecticut happen? What sort of God would allow that?

As a person, as a mother, as a theologian I have few good answers. I find myself in the avenue of mystery. Great, beautiful, terrible mystery. I simply do not understand. And I get the sense that, like Job, even if I was granted a face to face encounter with the Almighty, I still would not understand the “whys” of this sort of evil. 

But this is Advent, the time we look back to God taking on human flesh, and joining us in the mess we have made of this world. And the time we look forward to Christ coming back again to finish what he started over 2000 years ago; the time when there will be no more death, or sorrow, or pain. To that end we pray, Lord Jesus, come quickly!!