Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away.
– Revelation 21:1 (NRSV)
Forty years ago, I struck out to respond to a calling to ordained ministries in The United Methodist Church, and enrolled in a theological school after completing college. It didn’t work out, to put it simply, and so life’s paths brought me to other lessons and opportunities – but the calling never left me. A few years ago, I decided to return to exploring my calling. I applied to Yale Divinity School (YDS) two years ago, the closest school approved by The United Methodist Church, to pursue an appropriate degree. They said no – perhaps with good reason. After all, I hadn’t had formal schooling in decades, and although I had been preaching for several years and actively involved in churches and missions, I must have seemed like an unlikely scholar. I was, understandably, rather crestfallen. Nevertheless, I declared myself as a candidate for ordained minsitries to my Connecticut District of the New York Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
Someone – I forget who, now – mentioned that Hartford Seminary had a programme that would allow people to complete half of the credits towards a Master of Divinity degree and then apply for admission to YDS to complete the remaining degree requirements. It was the gift of a lifetime to receive that advice, for it brought me to an amazing institution that is filled with teachers who care passionately about their students and the world that they are preparing to serve. With no guarantees of success, I applied, was accepted, and started to learn how to be both a scholar and someone with a deeper appreciation of the place of faith in our world today. Hartford Seminary, and my experiences in Clinical Pastoral Education and church ministries, helped me to move towards the “path that God has prepared beforehand to be our way of life.” (Ephesians 2:10)
Now, the path has been opened to complete my studies at Yale Divinity School – I received their letter of acceptance yesterday. It was a humbling moment – so many emotions went through me as I saw that letter pop up on my computer screen. One journey of a lifetime was about to transition into a new journey of a lifetime. I will be asked to grow again, to see new horizons again, to learn from many masters of learning again – and, I pray, I will continue to rise to these challenges, with the help of God and of all those who have supported me so thoughtfully on this journey. It will be challenging, but I am grateful to have these challenges.
This will be my place for reflecting on the journey towards ordained ministries, on the world of faith, and on the world that needs faith. I invite you to subscribe to this blog, and to join me on the journey. There is a new heaven, and a new earth, that awaits us all, through faith – even soon, and very soon. Perhaps, even, right now, as you consider the Holy Spirit’s stirrings in your heart. My life is different, now. I pray that we may both explore this new life together. Thank you.