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Archive for February, 2013

welca_boldThis Sunday is Bold Women’s Sunday.  On Sunday, February 24, the Women of the ELCA (WELCA) are encouraging people to celebrate bold women in their lives – women who boldly live, proclaim and embody the message of Christ in their lives.

I find it a bit ironic that Bold Women’s Day is the Sunday that marks the center of two weeks of internship interviews for myself and my heavily female populated class at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago.  In no less than four interviews this week, I stated with confidence and dare I say boldness my beliefs in God, my hopes for the church, and areas that I think I can grow to best embody my vocation as baptized believer in Christ.

It is also ironic that Bold Women’s Day comes a few days after a horrific terrorist attack in Hyderabad, India, the city where just a month ago I and 17 other students lived, breathed, and learned.  If you have ever been to India, or have ever met anyone who has been to India, you will know that you need to be bold.  Telling a US traveler headed to India to “be bold,” is the perfect word of encouragement to help overcome culture shock and embrace the beautiful, welcoming, challenging and non-western country for what it is.  Throughout my time there, the mantra of “be bold” rang over and over in my head, and as I keep updated on reports on the aftermath of the terrorist attack, I find myself praying, “Be bold, people of India, be bold.”

Being bold in Christ is very different than being be bold by normal social means.  Secularly, being bold means having courage, being confident, and trusting your instinct.  Being bold in Christ is very different.  It means forgiving the terrorist in the midst of seeking safety.  It means trusting that God has not forsaken you when the bank account continues to dwindle.  It means naming your insecurities about how you will be at as a pastoral intern.

I am continually being taught wisdom by my five year old niece.  She is one of the truest reflections of the embodiment of Christ I have ever known.

A few weeks ago, my niece came home from kindergarten and wanted to practice “Lock Down” with my parents.  In the wake of recent school shootings like Sandy Hook, her elementary school is taking safety very seriously and training kids how to best protect themselves in case the unthinkable becomes a reality.  They learn how to hide under tables and in closets, learning how to wait and not be duped by fake police officers.

My sweet niece didn’t just take her lesson and set it aside.  She boldly came home and taught her grandparents what she learned because she wanted welca_bold_2them to be safe.  She had my parents take turns being the student and being the “bad guy.”  When my mom played the student, my niece took her under the table and boldly gave her directions on how to be safe.  “Okay, Grandma.  You need to stay very, very quiet.  You can’t say ‘move over, this is my space’ because you need to stay quiet to stay safe.”  After my mom’s turn of being trained was done, next it was time for my dad to learn “Lock Down.”

We can choose to look at my niece dragging my parents under the table to go into “Lock Down” as a symbol as how far our world has declined.  We can wallow in how sad it is that five-year old girls know the gun  drill so well they can teach a grown up.  I would rather focus on the boldness of that training session.  My niece – the one who eagerly waits to say grace, the one who can’t wait to go to Sunday School, the one who will tell you it’s okay to be sad on Good Friday because in three days Jesus will rise again – my niece is bold in her faith.  She loves to talk about Jesus.  She understands that Jesus asks us to treat others well.  She loves the world so much that she wanted to keep her grandparents safe.  She loves the world so much that she will boldly tell people she cares about how to be wise when evil knocks on her door.  My niece loves the world so much because she knows she is a beloved child of God.

Being bold doesn’t always mean doing the courageous thing or having confidence.  Being bold in Christ means protecting your neighbor.  It means looking at the realities of the world and coming up with a plan, even when that plan is basic safety and avoiding revenge.  Being bold in Christ means knowing that trouble is around the corner but living with confidence that God will not forsake you when it comes.

Today we celebrate the bold women in our lives, be they 5 years or 105 years old.  We celebrate women who are not afraid to embody the love of Christ in everything they do, even when it is teaching others the importance of “Lock Down.”

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The following article was written for Divinity Lutheran Church of Parma Heights, OH for the March 2013 Divinity Digest. 

This morning I and 33 of my fellow classmates signed up for internship interviews.  As candidates for ordination (i.e. pastors-in-training), the ELCA biblemaprequires a three year Master of Divinity degree, a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education, a variety of training on healthy boundaries, and a year-long internship that has a strong congregational component.

While most of these specifications are common among all mainline Protestant traditions, the year-long internship is something that is somewhat unique to the ELCA.  Because of this internship year, our program lasts four years instead of three years like many other traditions. That is not to say those traditions don’t require field training and internships, but that training tends to be congruent with course work for a section of a year.  They balance internship with their student life.  The ELCA requires that our ordination candidates take an entire year and do nothing but full time, supervised ministry with a strong congregational component.

As I sat in the first of many internship prep meetings today, I began to fully realize how special it is that we students are given this opportunity of a year-long internship.  Ministry is not something that just happens overnight.  When we are baptized, we are all called and equipped to be ministers of God and to share the good news of Jesus Christ to others.  I don’t think that it’s any surprise that we are all called with different gifts to serve in different ways.  Yet we do seem to be surprised that ministry takes time.

It takes time to assemble a budget.  It takes time to learn a new setting in the hymnal.  It takes time to see if the best night for the youth board to meet is Tuesday evenings or to realize that perhaps a better night is Thursdays.  It takes time to accept that while we may prefer to teach we are better at fundraising.  It takes time to build relationships, to build momentum, or to learn a stranger’s sense of humor.  It takes awhile to embrace new leaders, or to encourage the tone deaf person to sing in the choir because singing brings them joy.  It takes longer still to accept that a ministry that once was vibrant now needs to end, or to celebrate that the community around our church walls is changing.

Ministry doesn’t happen overnight, and it is because of what happens over a longer period of time that the ELCA requires candidates for ordination to complete a year long internship.  The internship time is set aside from school books and tests because this year is special.  This year is sacred.  This is the year that ministry can begin to form deeper roots and be a part of a community that is changing as they grow in their ministry.

The internship year is more than just a requirement to become a pastor.  It is more than an opportunity to strengthen a set of skills.  It is an opportunity to understand the ministry and relationships that come over time, and to have an active role in them.  It is a time to see God in the world through a new set of eyes and to experience new ways of proclaiming the redeeming love of Christ.

I look forward to sharing with you where God is leading me, and give thanks for your continued love and support while I continue to grow.

Wishing you God’s peace and blessings,

Tina Heise, Seminarian

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