Putting a Bow on the 2010 Semester

Maybe Charles Dickens was right in A Tale of Two Cities. The recently-completed fall 2010 semester was, indeed, the best of times, and it was the worst of times.

The worst seem to outweigh the good throughout most, however.

It was a semester of change and transition.

A semester filled with completing the move from the Virginia Annual Conference to the Kentucky Annual Conference. A semester where I looked across the classroom and did not see my usual cohorts in studies, many of whom had gone on to graduate.

It was a long semester.

I’m not sure I remember a more draining semester, both physically and mentally. At the start of the semester, I figured taking all of my classes on one day would be a breeze. I would be done in one day, and would have the rest of the week to study. However, what I learned is that 14-hours of class time, many of which included some frustrating moments, more on that in a minute, is exhausting. It would take me until late in the day Wednesday to catch-up on rest, and by Saturday I was struggling to keep up with the work.

It was a frustrating semester.

It was a semester where I felt I was going through the seminary motions. Lets be honest, there were times that I didn’t want to be here anymore. I admit that. It was mostly brought on by what Matt Stout and others have determined to be the ATS That Guy problem. I found them all, and in multiple varieties. The I Have To Be the Smartest Guy in the Room That Guy – had two of those, the UK Rules and You Don’t That Guy, and, my personal favorite, The I Don’t Know Personal Space That Guy. Each class, multiple That Guys, and it took away from the quality of the semester, which going in I believe had the potential – the potential – to be legendary.

To say that I am glad the fall semester is complete would be an understatement. I’m hesitant to get excited for the spring, even though it will be my final semester at Asbury. Maybe I’m tired of school, but ultimately I’m glad for a two week break of studies.

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Advent Devotional for December 17

December 17, 2010, Third Friday in Advent

Scripture: Matthew 5:43-48

You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.

We like to complain, don’t we?

We complain if someone cuts off on the highway. We complain if someone takes too long at the register. We complain about our neighbors. We complain about our jobs.

The list could go on and on, and we probably would have enough complaints to get us from today until next Christmas.

In this passage, Christ calls us to love the enemy, to love that person, group, or thing that frustrates us, causes us grief, and makes us want to scream to the mountain tops. Even more, Christ calls us to pray for this person. It’s this idea that we should be concerned for others, and see to live in love and peace with one another, even those whom would persecute us. We pray that God may work his love and grace and bring healing and reconciliation to all parties; that God’s peace will reign.

How can we respond to this call in our day? Think of something or someone that has caused you much grief recently. Maybe it is a situation at work. Maybe it is a family situation. Maybe it is something that has taken place in the past that you still are hurt by. Whatever it may be, spend time today praying about that and give that frustration, that hurt, over to God and allow God to work in the midst of that situation.

Lord, it is hard for us to pray for our enemies. We want to complain. We want to scream. And, we want everyone to hear it. But you Lord call us to pray. Teach us to pray for our enemies. Show us the way to your vision of holiness. In Christ Name, Amen.