Gordon-Conwell Blog

Gratitude and Miracle | Seminary Student Blogger

November 25, 2013

Melissa Zaldivar

It took me about a year to read One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, and as I read it I started a gratitude list. The premise of this book is one of searching for little acts of grace that God gives us that we often overlook. Voskamp found that she drew nearer to God as she made it a point to write these things down, to acknowledge them and thank him for giving them.

I started clumsily at first, knowing that I couldn’t just make a list of things I loved, but rather I had to capture moments. It started to grow into habit over time until I bought a little brown book in which I write out those things that spark a sense of gratitude, little whisperings of the Savior’s provision.

106. The raspy shouting of a child trying to whisper in church.
114. Friends returning from long trips.
139. The crowd that lingers after a polo match, wandering in the light of dusk.
166. Walking the Brooklyn Bridge.
194. Pressing record for a living.
246. Rumors of Advent.

Thanksgiving used to be the kind of holiday that I almost overlooked. It didn’t have the pizzazz of Christmas and it was almost impossible to go all the way home for the holiday, so it fell to the back of my mind until mid-November.

This year’s Thanksgiving feels new. After a year of writing down the things that make my world powerfully and pointedly and almost unbearably beautiful, Thanksgiving is a holiday that I am greatly looking forward to.

This year, Thanksgiving falls on the first night of Hanukkah. As a Messianic Jew, I am Christian by faith, but Jewish by tradition and lineage. Hanukkah, the Festival of Dedication, is characterized by a focus on the miracles of life, the faithfulness of God and the dedication with which we must honor the LORD in our own lives. Jesus celebrated Hanukkah in John 10 (which also was when Jesus announced that he was One with the Father).

The Jewish calendar is not the same as the Roman one, and so sometimes Hanukkah is early December and sometimes it’s later. This year, since Thanksgiving is so late and Hanukkah is so early, they coincide, and I could not be more pleased.

Today I was talking to a dear friend about the ways that God moves in our lives through the smallest details to bring us to a better understanding of who he is. Just nine months ago, she and I were strangers and now here we were overwhelmed by his faithfulness as good friends. Gratitude and Miracle.

We are fallen and yet he loves us. Gratitude and Miracle.

I get to be a student of theology for this season. Gratitude and Miracle.

These holidays might have more in common than I realized.

Each year, we recite prayers as we light candles on Hanukkah. The flame glimmers in the window, shining out to the community around us, as if to proclaim the light of God himself. We say in Hebrew, “Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, who has granted us life, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this season.”

As the sun sets, and Hanukkah arrives Thanksgiving night, I will pull out that little brown book and a pen, writing by the light of a menorah, soul full of family and friends, and I will pour ink onto the page and it will simply read, “Gratitude and Miracle.”

Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Hanukkah. May he continue to grant us life, sustain us and enable us to reach new seasons. And may the gratitude for the miracles he gifts us be ever on our lips.

Melissa Zaldivar is an MATH student from California. She loves golf, theology, Jewish holidays, people falling in love, Jonathan Edwards, chocolate chip cookies, her adorable niece and telling stories. When she's not filming and photographing weddings, you can find her reading news articles, watching Parks and Recreation or playing Super Smash Bros.
 

 

 

Tags: Author: Melissa Zaldivar , spiritually vital , student blogger

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Confessions of a Selfish, People-Pleasing Pastor | Seminary Student Blogger

November 14, 2013

Joelinda Coichy

I have been a people-pleaser most of my life. Actually—I think I made it through high school and college in the shape that I did because I knew that being a good student and Christian would very much please my ambitious, emigrant, Haitian family.

I should have known then that I would probably end up working in the church, because it turns out people-pleasing is an area in which many of us pastor-types excel.

To a certain degree, this makes sense. Our call is to care for people and help them find wholeness in Christ. Generally, whole people are “pleased” with God and with us by extension. And we do our best to “give all the praise to God,” but c’mon, we love the goodwill that we receive because of God’s awesomeness (at least I know that I do). And this is not necessarily bad…

But when there are more people than we have the resources to care for and we get tired, our call degenerates. For me—generally into pandering, appeasing and thoughts along the lines of: “If I just show up and smile, I can make it through and they will be happy.”

But, if despite your people-pleasing tendencies you have genuine concern for your flock, here is the BIG, sad catch: people don’t want to be pleased and appeased; they want to be genuinely loved.

I have learned the HARD way that every time I show up to “serve” someone who needs (nags) me without explicit marching orders from the Holy Spirit, my “service” blows up in my face.

Generally, I show up tired, and despite my best acting Needy-Person-X can sense that I am not all there. Needy-Person-X doesn’t get what he/she wants/needs. Needy-Person-X is hurt. And I leave exhausted and—worse—discouraged about myself, Needy-Person-X, and about God’s ability to heal, in general…

Yeah, not ideal!

Genuine love is hard. Really, it can only come from God’s Holy Spirit making me aware of how much, despite my own brokenness, I am adored and provided for. And really, it can only happen within boundaries.

Boundaries that tell me that I am not God. Boundaries that remind me that I only can give what has been first been given to me by the Holy Spirit. Boundaries of rest, quiet and Sabbath that prove to my heart that God is the one at work, not me. And boundaries that prevent me from showing up, tired and needy myself, to “serve” what ends up being nothing more than my own ego and pride.

Joelinda is a second year M.Div. candidate. She currently serves as the Student Ministries Director at Grace Chapel’s Watertown campus. She is a lover of all things beautiful including theater, fall days in New England, chick flicks and the mountains. She counts bargain-hunting her sport and enjoys singing loudly while driving. Above all, Joelinda’s passion is to build relationships that help others understand the transformative power of the gospel.

 

Tags: Author: Joelinda Coichy , spiritually vital , student blogger , thoughtfully evangelical

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Grace Abounding | Seminary Student Blogger

November 12, 2013

Melissa Zaldivar

I’ve been a runner for about five years now, and usually go just a few miles here and there. So when a friend wanted to do a half-marathon, I asked her if I could join. It was, in my mind, going to be great. As a film director, I had my idea of what the next month would look like. I would train on fall afternoons and pound out mile after mile. I would get in distance shape, and the day of the race I would cross the finish line having persevered. The music would swell and everything would come together like the end of a movie.

But a week before the race, I injured my knee and my running advisor told me that I should stay off of it. I started feeling in my heart that something was shifting. The race day was not going to be the way that I thought it would be.

My friend got a really nasty cold and had to pull out of the half and so I coordinated a ride and went to Newburyport for the big day. It was cold and I was nervous and undertrained and had no idea what I was doing. And I wish I could tell you that I ran through the rolling backroads and felt nothing but pure adrenaline and broke all kinds of records and raced well. But I hit a wall at mile seven that turned into a battlefield until mile nine, at which point I met a woman who was running at about the same pace. Her name was Alysha and she was about 10 years old than me. So, we talked about family and kids and marriage and started exhausting the basic details of everyday life. And around mile 11, she told me about her mother-in-law who has pancreatic cancer. Alysha has been taking care of her, quitting her job and exhausting herself to do so.

Life is full of a lot of little details that don’t make any sense, and it sometimes feels like nothing is ever going to change. Like I’ll be single forever and my vocation will never really take off and I’ll never understand Hebrew paradigms and instead of breaking records and finishing well I’m breaking bones and trying to finish. Period.

As we approached mile 12.5, I started to feel that shift in my heart again. I was running toward the finish line feeling like I hadn’t really accomplished anything. I hadn’t had some big, transformative breakthrough. Instead, I was running beside a woman who was struggling just to take care of others (let alone herself) and I almost wanted to just stop because I felt like I was going nowhere anyway. And out of that rush of disappointment and pain and underwhelming feelings, instead of saying something profound, all I could muster was this sentence about a dear family at the seminary who has been struggling the last few weeks with difficult news.

I took a breath and said, “My friend and her husband are going to Philadelphia to talk to doctors about whether or not their daughter will ever walk or even survive the next few months.”

We were silent for a second and I looked at Alysha and I said, “In case no one is telling you this, can I just say: Thank you for everything that you are doing.”

The next few minutes were a blur. We listened to Katy Perry and crossed the finish line and a teenager gave me a medal and I felt, oddly, nothing.
Sometimes, we make plans. And we see life taking one turn when we wanted it to turn another direction. This half-marathon was a case of me trying to make it turn the other way. It was my way of accomplishing something on my own, and in the end, it left me empty. Sure, I did what I set out to do. I ran a half-marathon. But running doesn’t solve anything. The same way that straight A’s or understanding Hebrew or getting married doesn’t solve anything. In the end, it’s not about finishing well. Maybe it’s not even about the finish. Maybe it’s about hitting that wall and still putting one foot in front of the other.

We serve a sovereign God who loves us greatly. Who has planned out route for this race and desires for us to trust in that. While it will always be a struggle for this heart of mine, I have to remember that I’m not really the director here. Life is rarely cinematic. Just because the music doesn’t swell and I’m not being carried on anyone’s shoulders at the end of a half-marathon doesn’t mean He is any less good. If anything, I think that our weakness proves His strength all the more.

So, my friends, may you find yourself racing well. When your legs are strong and your lungs breathe easy, may you thank Him for grace. And when you hit that wall and nothing seems to be going according to plan, may you remember to just put one foot in front of the other. And may you thank Him for grace abounding.

Melissa Zaldivar is an MATH student from California. She loves golf, theology, Jewish holidays, people falling in love, Jonathan Edwards, chocolate chip cookies, her adorable niece and telling stories. When she's not filming and photographing weddings, you can find her reading news articles, watching Parks and Recreation or playing Super Smash Bros.
 

 

 

Tags: Author: Melissa Zaldivar , spiritually vital , student blogger , thoughtfully evangelical

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A really interesting post that should make us think about what we can do and what we do, what our path of life as we live it, I liked it and gave me strength to keep walking. Best wishes.
Tot dental 11:17AM 11/13/13

Your Voice | Seminary Student Blogger

November 07, 2013

Kate Hightower

Struck hard
Lost
In the pitch of night
No room
For a breath
Too close
For fright

Just constant
Motion
To no where in sight
Alone and angry
My purposes run dry

A confession, a surrender
A gasp, a sigh

Stars blister the night
Making dazzled way
For beaming moonlight
The grip to relent

Strength surge to my limbs
Curl into a dance
A symphony calls further
Shatters my trance

And
Then
Your
Voice

“Arise,” say Your eyes.
“Come forth here and stay.”

A gasp, a surrender,
A declaration of tearful reply:

“You are the God who sees.”
And I bathe free in Your delight.

Kate Hightower is writing to you from the middle of her Master of Divinity and Master of Arts in Christian Thought pursuit at Gordon-Conwell—Jacksonville, where she is also a Byington Scholar. She’s an avid Bob Dylan fan, and can always be counted upon for decadent French cooking. And she’s madly in love with her giant, brilliant golden retriever, Stella.

Tags: Author: Kate Hightower , spiritually vital , student blogger

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The Folly of Forgetfulness, the Joy of Remembrance: A Prayer, Day 6 | Seminary Student Blogger

November 02, 2013

Amy Gannett

Amy is contributing a week-long series on reflection and remembrance. You can read her introduction here; day 1 here; day 2 here; day 3 here; day 4 here; day 5 here.

You Have Always Remembered Us

We remember the childhood trek through the store,
when mommy and daddy faded from sight.
We scurried and scrambled and shook just a bit
and they found us again down the next isle.

We remember the more serious journeys of youth,
the ones that led down dark paths.
We scurried and scrambled and shook a bit more,
and the way out was found after a while.

Now we a grown, big, and mature,
and our seasons of loss are the same.
And we do not see the way out.

But the theme of our past
stings brutally with the truth:
Your eyes have not left us, not once.

In each flight of fear,
In each journey of darkness
In each season of pain,
Your eyes have not left us, not once.

Though we have forgotten,
You never have.

And so we ask,
limply,
humbly,
and undeservingly,
that You might make us among the remembering ones,
even as You have always remembered us.

Would you punctuate the dialogue of our lives
with pause and reflection
that we might, in every season,
recall Your goodness that carried us there. 

Hi, friend. I'm Amy. Mostly, I’m just another twenty-something trying to figure out the stuff of life. I am a nerdy seminary student who loves the smell of old books and early mornings in the library. I am an artist wanabee, a liberal to the conservative and conservative to the liberal, guilty social justice groupie, and a recovering Bible know-it-all with the unreal ability to put my foot in my mouth an astonishing number of times each day. I am a sister to eight of the most hysterical creatures ever created. Good theology, used book stores, and autumn make me giddy. I preach passionately, think deeply, and ask too many questions. I write prayers, poetry and prose. I write about preaching bad and good, gender roles in the Church, the sacraments, stupid things we do on Sunday, politics, and almost everything else that you are not supposed to discuss in polite company. I also blog at oneyellowbird.blogspot.com. Welcome to the journey.

 

Tags: Author: Amy Gilbaugh , equipping leaders for the church and society , spiritually vital , student blogger

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The Folly of Forgetfulness, the Joy of Remembrance: A Prayer, Day 5 | Seminary Student Blogger

November 01, 2013

Amy Gannett

Amy is contributing a week-long series on reflection and remembrance. You can read her introduction here; day 1 here; day 2 here; day 3 here; day 4 here.

That Wonted Place

The mornings roll together in sleepy familiarity.

The routine is consistent, the rhythm the same.

But this morning I heard a bird trill a familiar tune,

and suddenly I was back in that wonted place dear to my heart.

Swept up in the music, I sat on my old back porch with Your Words in hand.

I climbed up the apple tree just to check the nest.

I hid between the berry bushes and listened to a searching sister's voice.

And here, on this big brown couch, I remember -

Your eyes upon me are the same eyes,

Your voice within me the same voice,

Your goodness toward me to same goodness.

Two worlds apart, and many journeys between,

You are my constant custom.

And I am grateful. 

Hi, friend. I'm Amy. Mostly, I’m just another twenty-something trying to figure out the stuff of life. I am a nerdy seminary student who loves the smell of old books and early mornings in the library. I am an artist wanabee, a liberal to the conservative and conservative to the liberal, guilty social justice groupie, and a recovering Bible know-it-all with the unreal ability to put my foot in my mouth an astonishing number of times each day. I am a sister to eight of the most hysterical creatures ever created. Good theology, used book stores, and autumn make me giddy. I preach passionately, think deeply, and ask too many questions. I write prayers, poetry and prose. I write about preaching bad and good, gender roles in the Church, the sacraments, stupid things we do on Sunday, politics, and almost everything else that you are not supposed to discuss in polite company. I also blog at oneyellowbird.blogspot.com. Welcome to the journey.

 

Tags: Author: Amy Gilbaugh , equipping leaders for the church and society , spiritually vital , student blogger

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The Folly of Forgetfulness, the Joy of Remembrance: A Prayer, Day 4 | Seminary Student Blogger

October 31, 2013

Amy Gannett

Amy is contributing a week-long series on reflection and remembrance. You can read her introduction here; day 1 here; day 2 here; day 3 here.

The Fidelity of Dawn

The dark horizon hides itself
in the blackness of the sky.

The world is concealed in night this hour,
and we watch the motionless mass once again.

We have sat awake in many midnights.

Never has this black horizon persistent.
Never has this darkness been eternal.

And in the unintentional expectations of our own minds,
our hearts respond in new awareness:

Never once have You withheld the sun.
Never once have You left us in the dark.

Every morning,
each dawn,
You are faithful.

Every midnight,
every dark hour,
You are faithful.

And in this dark hour of waiting,
we choose again to remember,
and we choose again to believe. 

Hi, friend. I'm Amy. Mostly, I’m just another twenty-something trying to figure out the stuff of life. I am a nerdy seminary student who loves the smell of old books and early mornings in the library. I am an artist wanabee, a liberal to the conservative and conservative to the liberal, guilty social justice groupie, and a recovering Bible know-it-all with the unreal ability to put my foot in my mouth an astonishing number of times each day. I am a sister to eight of the most hysterical creatures ever created. Good theology, used book stores, and autumn make me giddy. I preach passionately, think deeply, and ask too many questions. I write prayers, poetry and prose. I write about preaching bad and good, gender roles in the Church, the sacraments, stupid things we do on Sunday, politics, and almost everything else that you are not supposed to discuss in polite company. I also blog at oneyellowbird.blogspot.com. Welcome to the journey.

 

Tags: Author: Amy Gilbaugh , equipping leaders for the church and society , spiritually vital , student blogger

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The Folly of Forgetfulness, the Joy of Remembrance: A Prayer, Day 3 | Seminary Student Blogger

October 30, 2013

Amy Gannett

Amy is contributing a week-long series on reflection and remembrance. You can read her introduction here; day 1 here; day 2 here.

The Grace of Decided Impatience

We have heard the whispered promise
that You are still to come.

And we, too, have been those who
preached those promises,
claimed those confessions,
declared those decrees.

But we also confess
that as soon as the creed slipped from our lips,
we left the pews without expectation, viable hope, or any bit of impatience.

He ascended into heaven, seated at the right hand of God, the almighty Father, from where he will come to judge the living and the dead.

And so we ask, dear God, that You
would grant us the grace of
decided impatience.

Press our eyes to the horizon,
our ears to the ground.

Fix our feet in holy restlessness
and quicken them towards that which is our final Rest. 

Hi, friend. I'm Amy. Mostly, I’m just another twenty-something trying to figure out the stuff of life. I am a nerdy seminary student who loves the smell of old books and early mornings in the library. I am an artist wanabee, a liberal to the conservative and conservative to the liberal, guilty social justice groupie, and a recovering Bible know-it-all with the unreal ability to put my foot in my mouth an astonishing number of times each day. I am a sister to eight of the most hysterical creatures ever created. Good theology, used book stores, and autumn make me giddy. I preach passionately, think deeply, and ask too many questions. I write prayers, poetry and prose. I write about preaching bad and good, gender roles in the Church, the sacraments, stupid things we do on Sunday, politics, and almost everything else that you are not supposed to discuss in polite company. I also blog at oneyellowbird.blogspot.com. Welcome to the journey.

 

Tags: Author: Amy Gilbaugh , equipping leaders for the church and society , spiritually vital , student blogger

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The Folly of Forgetfulness, the Joy of Remembrance: A Prayer, Day 2 | Seminary Student Blogger

October 29, 2013

Amy Gannett

Amy is contributing a week-long series on reflection and remembrance. You can read her introduction here; day 1 here.

Grace to Believe

The orations roll off our tongues
with tradition and ease.

We believe, we do.

We believe.

… in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ His only Son, our Lord …

We believe, we do.

But Sundays have a way of hastening to end,
and Monday meets us with terrors irreconcilable.

Doctors call with news that isn’t good,
Kids call with nightmares we cannot ward off,
The bank calls again and more time is not an option.

And we forget
how to believe …

…in the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting …

So would You, God of our profession,
come and foster in us
the faith of remembrance,
and give us the grace
to recite the creed once again.

And to say,
we believe. 

Hi, friend. I'm Amy. Mostly, I’m just another twenty-something trying to figure out the stuff of life. I am a nerdy seminary student who loves the smell of old books and early mornings in the library. I am an artist wanabee, a liberal to the conservative and conservative to the liberal, guilty social justice groupie, and a recovering Bible know-it-all with the unreal ability to put my foot in my mouth an astonishing number of times each day. I am a sister to eight of the most hysterical creatures ever created. Good theology, used book stores, and autumn make me giddy. I preach passionately, think deeply, and ask too many questions. I write prayers, poetry and prose. I write about preaching bad and good, gender roles in the Church, the sacraments, stupid things we do on Sunday, politics, and almost everything else that you are not supposed to discuss in polite company. I also blog at oneyellowbird.blogspot.com. Welcome to the journey.

 

Tags: Author: Amy Gilbaugh , equipping leaders for the church and society , spiritually vital , student blogger

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The Folly of Forgetfulness, the Joy of Remembrance: A Prayer, Day 1 | Seminary Student Blogger

October 28, 2013

Amy Gannett

Amy is contributing a week-long series on reflection and remembrance. You can read her introduction here.

Sunday was Long Ago

Sunday morning has come and gone.
We ate our fill,
and were very proud we had cleaned our spiritual plate.

We heaped our plates with
service,
song
and solitude.

And walked out the stained-glass doors
satisfied,
gratified,
and fulfilled.

And Monday we sat down in passive wontedness,
occupied and busy and
quite unconcerned with eating again.

Like a child who picked his plate clean and refused a return visit,
we have been foolish in our spiritual feeding,
negligent with regard to our need.

And Sunday was long ago.

We cared not for the spiritual deficiency
that slowly crept through our bones
nor did we note the way our hearts
grew languidly cold.

But …

our bellies are beginning to growl.

Slowly, certainly, and somewhat begrudgingly
we are noticing our own dissatisfaction.

We have need, and our selves bear witness that
our need is none other than You.

Hi, friend. I'm Amy. Mostly, I’m just another twenty-something trying to figure out the stuff of life. I am a nerdy seminary student who loves the smell of old books and early mornings in the library. I am an artist wanabee, a liberal to the conservative and conservative to the liberal, guilty social justice groupie, and a recovering Bible know-it-all with the unreal ability to put my foot in my mouth an astonishing number of times each day. I am a sister to eight of the most hysterical creatures ever created. Good theology, used book stores, and autumn make me giddy. I preach passionately, think deeply, and ask too many questions. I write prayers, poetry and prose. I write about preaching bad and good, gender roles in the Church, the sacraments, stupid things we do on Sunday, politics, and almost everything else that you are not supposed to discuss in polite company. I also blog at oneyellowbird.blogspot.com. Welcome to the journey.

 

Tags: Author: Amy Gilbaugh , equipping leaders for the church and society , spiritually vital , student blogger

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Choosing to Remember: An Invitation to Reflection | Seminary Student Blogger

October 27, 2013

Amy Gannett

Amy is contributing a week-long series on reflection and remembrance. The following is her introduction.

Saturday morning was slow. It was lazy. And comfortable. And familiar.

This morning I felt the prodding of the Lord to go back through old journals, and so I compiled them, gathering them from every corner of my room:

the ones on the book shelf just a bit dusty,

the one on the coffee table all too familiar,

the ones under the bed all but forgotten.

I spent three hours in those pages, remembering and recalling and crying and blushing. I can hardly believe I once thought some of those thoughts, believed some of those beliefs, was concerned about some of those unknowns. But in those pages I also heard my own voice. The dreams are the same; the desires, familiar.

And the God who made it all happen sat back with me and savored the view:

He has been so faithful.

Page after page, with ink spilled on both sides, He has proven Himself to be the constant companion of my soul. The only One who could walk all those paths and heed all those thoughts. He alone has been the common thread in every season.

I don’t know about you, but I am quick to forget. I am slow of remembrance. I do not recall naturally, or remember unaffectedly. I have to want it, to choose it, and to make time for it.

So, I want to invite you to do just that. I want to invite you to join me in a week of reflection on the faithfulness of God. I want to invite you to pull out your journal, your photo albums, your old blog entries, and recall the faithfulness of our God. I want to invite you to pray with me concerning the folly of forgetfulness and the joy of remembrance.

So go on, grab that journal on your shelf and the one under the bed.

Because these books hold our story.

And they cry,

"But I am poor and needy;
Yet the Lord thinks upon me.
You are my help and my deliverer;
Do not delay, O my God"
Psalm 40:17

Hi, friend. I'm Amy. Mostly, I’m just another twenty-something trying to figure out the stuff of life. I am a nerdy seminary student who loves the smell of old books and early mornings in the library. I am an artist wanabee, a liberal to the conservative and conservative to the liberal, guilty social justice groupie, and a recovering Bible know-it-all with the unreal ability to put my foot in my mouth an astonishing number of times each day. I am a sister to eight of the most hysterical creatures ever created. Good theology, used book stores, and autumn make me giddy. I preach passionately, think deeply, and ask too many questions. I write prayers, poetry and prose. I write about preaching bad and good, gender roles in the Church, the sacraments, stupid things we do on Sunday, politics, and almost everything else that you are not supposed to discuss in polite company. I also blog at oneyellowbird.blogspot.com. Welcome to the journey.

 

Tags: Author: Amy Gilbaugh , equipping leaders for the church and society , spiritually vital , student blogger

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The Foxes and The Hunt | Seminary Student Blogger

October 17, 2013

Melissa Zaldivar

I was listening to Audrey Assad’s latest album recently when I heard the words that sparked a hunt in my heart:

“And the foxes in the vineyard will not steal my joy.”

While Audrey is one of the most profound lyricists of our generation, I was haunted by that line, the way that poetry of the Old Testament hangs in the air and I am often left in awe of its beauty. I knew that this line had to be Scripture.

I opened up my Bible and sure enough, there are a number of times that our furry little foes pop up in the entire breadth of the canon. Most of them are in the Old Testament, which is where Audrey’s reference comes from. It’s in Song of Solomon, where the writer admonishes, “Catch the little foxes that spoil the vineyards” (2:15).

Catching foxes is a curious turn of phrase. And one that resonates with me because I work in Hamilton, Massachusetts, just a few miles from campus at a historic Hunt Club. Now, being from California, where being a fox might even be a good thing, the New England culture has been mostly new for me. I’ve never seen a lacrosse game, I’ve never known anyone on a rowing team. And until I started working at the Club, I’d never seen polo played before unless it involved Marco in the swimming pool.

The logo at the Club is a simple, yet profound one. It’s the image of a fox with a horn above it. It’s on the Club flag that flies over the clubhouse and on the divot repair tools on the golf course, and it’s embroidered on every staff shirt just above the heart. Because of how long I’ve worked at the club and because we get new shirts every year, I’ve got more shirts and jackets and hats and even belts with that logo than most people I know.

We wear the logo of the huntsman. This history dates back to the late 1800s when fox hunting was all the rage, and while we do not actually hunt foxes today (but rather the more humane fox scent), it is a tradition. I walk up the hill to work in the little golf shop at the Club as up to a dozen gigantic horses and nearly 40 hunting hounds weave along the bridle paths.

In an effort to understand Audrey and to get a better feel for the historical sport, I did a little research into the origins of fox hunting. Originally, it was a form of pest-control. Foxes have been known in literature and society for hundreds of years as sneaky, thieving creatures. Because they used to come to farms and kill chickens or steal food, farmers started to hunt them. Now, years later, we still honor the tradition of the hunt.

Gordon-Conwell is situated on a hill that was once owned by a member of the Club and is a part of the historic route that the hunters used to take. Every year, they take a ride with the hounds through our Hamilton campus. Children who live here come to see them go by as the riders wave. As they passed through this year, I couldn’t help but take notice of the incredible spiritual implications.

Foxes come to thieve and destroy. Jesus called Herod a fox, knowing that he was deceptive. And in Song of Solomon, chasing away the foxes was an active form of defending the vineyard. How fitting it is that our campus, where we defend the faith and fight against heresy and deception, is on the grounds of the historic hunt. How interesting it is that nearly every day, I put on the logo of the huntsman over my heart.

As we go about our studies, we not only increase in knowledge of the truth, but we are given the task of seeking out and chasing away the foxes—those things that get a foothold and ruin our lives, our marriages, our friendships, our trust in God. We are not simply students. We are the huntsman, still defending ourselves and chasing away foxes on this traditional plot of hunting ground.

For they will not steal our joy.

Melissa Zaldivar is an MATH student from California. She loves golf, theology, Jewish holidays, people falling in love, Jonathan Edwards, chocolate chip cookies, her adorable niece and telling stories. When she's not filming and photographing weddings, you can find her reading news articles, watching Parks and Recreation or playing Super Smash Bros.
 

 

 

Tags: Author: Melissa Zaldivar , biblically-grounded , spiritually vital , student blogger

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