Monday, January 18, 2010

youTheology for Life

I was sixteen when I received the call to full time ministry.

I wish I could say it was a remarkable moment where everything in my life suddenly became clear and perfected. However, that was not the case. And yet, each decision now had a new twist on it-would it lead me to further God's call on my life? Would it equip me for what was to come in ministry and in life? When I applied for youTheology, I knew the answers to these questions were, "Yes! Of course this will equip me for ministry." But I didn't realize how much it would equip me for life. Moreover, I wish I could say that this year-long event changed my life and my perspective in an instant, but instead it provided foundational blocks for what was to come. Instead of changing us in a moment, youTheology defines and refines God's graces in us, which is a greater and more lasting change.

I remember standing in the middle of the Salisbury Cathedral, in England, looking at the beautiful windows at the altar. They shone beautiful blue, so clear, like water. To think that they had been in those stone walls for nearly 800 years and still shown so brightly. The cathedral sanctuary was busy with tourists and visitors. At a few minutes before two, a man came forward and announced that they would be having a moment of prayer and silence at two o'clock. When two came, we all bowed our heads and prayers were whispered up into the heavens just as they had been for eight hundred years. As I prayed silently, I realized that there were no words for a moment like that. There were no words when you are sitting in such a sacred, historical place-where for generations, English families traveled in to services each Sunday to worship God in a place of special wonder.

I often visit this memory and that moment in time. It reminds me of the entire experience that I had in youTheology. The topics we studied, the lessons we learned, the activities we did were like light shining through those stained glass windows. We were truly exploring theology-"faith seeking understanding." We were also looking for our place within the history of Methodism and the work of John Wesley. Yet it took time for me to comprehend and to reflect on all that was taking place during our year together.

Education is not about learning something once, but about learning it until it is a part of you-until you see the topic's greater significance. youTheology gives the tools, the building blocks, and the introduction to topics that you'll revisit over and over again. You begin place your faith in the conversation of theology-studying who God is and what that means for the world. And you begin to understand what it means to be a Methodist, to be a believer in God's refining and perfecting grace. It is more than just a trip; it is more than just learning history; it is more than making new friends. It is way more.

Since youTheology, I see that what we learned was like musical theories and notes known by a composer. By knowing chords and keys, theories and melodies, the composer can create music of their own. Moreover, it takes time to put those notes together in a way that makes it their own. The study of languages, of medicine, of sciences, of mathematics does the same. These studies equip us with tools so that we might make something that is our own, we might apply it in away that shows the world a little bit about who we are-where God's creativity shines out in us.

Kim Swartz
youTheology Program Assistant
Pastor, Napoleon UMC, Napoleon MO
youTheology alumna
Student, Saint Paul School of Theology
Loving God, Loving Neighbor

No comments:

Post a Comment