The Rev. Shonda Jones is our Guest Blogger this week. Shonda is an elder in The United Methodist Church and serves at the Assistant Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid at Candler School of Theology, Emory University. A native of Dallas, she spends her quiet time with the four fish tanks that adorn her Atlanta-area home and her loud time cheering on her beloved Dallas Cowboys. Shonda also serves as Assistant Pastor of Clarkston United Methodist Church in Clarkston, Georgia.
During this time of year, we are all busy making resolutions, starting things anew, and setting goals. Some of the newness and vigor that comes with the New Year, will likely lead to some resolutions being fulfilled; yet some goals will fall by the way side. As I reflect on the start of 2008, I choose not to focus on more resolutions. Rather, I have decided to focus on those things that I know are steadfast. Don’t get me wrong – I have goals that I look forward to tackling with the New Year. I will attend to them and make sure that I maintain some discipline in trying to achieve them. I will try to keep to my resolutions and remain true to the new commitments made. However, if past years are any indication, I should be a little worried at the outcome of some of my New Year’s resolutions. So this year will be a little different. I will focus more on the things that will not fade with time. Those things that are steadfast. The things that last in spite of what we do. Things like God’s steadfast love, grace, and mercy.
I am currently attending the United Methodist Racial/Ethnic Clergywomen’s Consultation in Los Angeles, California. During our opening worship service, Bishop Minerva G. Carcano (the first Hispanic woman elected bishop in The United Methodist Church) spoke on our theme, “Rising from our Common Ground” and referenced Isaiah 43:19. As I listened to the God’s Word — “I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?…” I thought how appropriate that the text points us to the brand new thing that God is doing and not so much on what we are doing. I listened, prayed silently, and gleaned new insight as I experienced God’s presence during Communion. I received the words of our celebrants, Bishop Leontine T.C. Kelly (the second woman and the first African American woman elected bishop in The United Methodist Church) and Bishop Violet L. Fisher (the first African American woman elected bishop from the Northeastern Jurisdiction). As I sat among other colleagues in ministry as we worshipped together, I nodded my head in the affirmative – Yes, God is doing a new thing among these powerful women of God and among us all!
Will I continue to set new goals and pronounce resolutions with the passing of each New Year? Sure. But I will always remember that though I may waiver, those things that are steadfast – God’s love, grace, and mercy– can gird me up in new ways because God is indeed doing a new thing! Can you not perceive it?
You may be sensing that God is doing a new thing in your life, which may be leading you towards seminary. If you would like to discuss your discernment and vocational options in the Candler context, please contact us in the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid at firstname.lastname@example.org, call us at 404.727.6326. Candler is also on www.facebook.com and we invite you to join our facebook group called Candler School of Theology-Emory University.