Dec 24 2012

A Christmas Prayer

It is always challenging, this waiting in Advent, and preparing our home comes easier than preparing our hearts.   Our family has decorated, baked, and shopped.  We have hosted, made merry, and traveled to the Northeast to be with family and friends.  Our activity these past few weeks accomplishes many things, but has it prepared us for the gift we are about to receive?  Not really.

Perhaps it has been in moments of quiet contemplation, at the hanging of the greens at Cannon Chapel, and in challenging discussions in Sunday School that we have truly prepared.  It is in these forms of active waiting that we have marveled again at the great mystery of God’s wondrous love through the birth of the baby Jesus.

Famine, storms, and fatigue, though, leave us restless.  Poverty, homelessness, and the impact of mental illness in our community strain our faithfulness.  The deaths of children in the Middle East, in Afghanistan, and in Connecticut heighten our anticipation of God’s great in-breaking.

Frederick Buechner, in The Hungering Dark, offers the following prayer, which we share with you this Christmas.

Lord Jesus Christ, Thou Son of the Most High, Prince of Peace, be born again into our world. Wherever there is war in this world, wherever there is pain, wherever there is loneliness, wherever there is no hope, come, thou long-expected one, with healing in thy wings.  Holy child, whom the shepherds and the kings and the dumb beasts adored, be born again.  Wherever there is boredom, wherever there is fear of failure, wherever there is temptation too strong to resist, wherever there is bitterness of heart, come, thou blessed one, with healing in thy wings.

Amen and Amen.

- Mary Lou Greenwood Boice & Gordon Boice

Mary Lou Greenwood Boice is associate dean of admissions and financial aid at Candler.  Gordon Boice, is senior graphic designer at Emory University.  Their daughter, Katie, is a freshman at Emory College.

Dec 7 2012

Who is a theologian?

This is a question I never cared to ponder until seminary. I have a business background as well as an ecclesial one but defining a theologian was never a concern … until now. Who constitutes the classification of theologian? Before coming to Candler, I may have answered that question with a list of erudite scholars, many of whom are no longer living.

A theologian is someone who dedicates her or his life to the scholastic vocation of seeking after knowledge of God and the things of God….

For some, that may have been a sufficient answer but life has taught me differently. While I have learned a great deal from the noted theologians of the past, I have learned, perhaps most deeply, from the theologians who would never classify themselves as such. Some of the most impactful learning experiences I have had over the course of my time in seminary have not been from books but from lived experiences.

Voices of HopeA few weeks ago, the Voices of Hope Gospel Choir of the Lee Arrendale State Prison for Women came to sing during chapel service. The ways the songs soothed my soul and the way the melody wrapped me in comfort is something words cannot adequately convey. Excuse my colloquialism but you just had to be there. One song in particular struck me in a way no scholarly reading ever has. The choir full of women who were incarcerated for crime sang the words I AM FORGIVEN, I AM A CHILD OF GOD. It was as if all of the theological discourse in my being came to an abrupt halt to listen again to these words of truth. What does it mean to be forgiven? To belong to God? To be children of grace? By singing these words, these women became for me at that moment, theologians, encouraging me to learn something new and think about God in new and fresh ways.

I am teaching a class this semester at the same prison the women in the choir are from. On the first day, I began class by saying – “whether you know it or not, you are all theologians.” I wanted to affirm the voices of these women relegated to the outskirts of society. I wanted to do for these women what my theological education has done for me – affirm the voice within. God in Christ Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit speaks to me, in me and through me…and to these women as well. I have a voice, I have something to say and my words matter. So do theirs. So does yours.

The pursuit of theological education is a blessed one. It will often times lead you to the wonders of great writings and texts and if you are patient enough, it will lead you to the lives of people whose experiences will stay with you for a lifetime. These people will never call themselves theologians but you and I know better.

- Rachelle Brown

Rachelle is a second year MDiv student from Cincinnati, OH and a Candler Student Ambassador.

You can see an earlier blog about the Voices of Hope here.