Monday, July 16, 2012

Modular-continued studies

The building where my class was held
Looking towards the library
This is a difficult post to write in that I feel I have SO MUCH to write, that no matter what I put on the page, it won't do justice to the past few weeks of study.

June 23-30th was my "modular week" where I go on campus and meet with my faculty and classmates. This was my first time actually visiting Regent's campus, and the experience was marvelous. Eyebrows started to raise the minute I left SLC when discussion with fellow travelers and eventually classmates came to to the fact that a Mormon girl was attending a divinity school in the heart of the Bible Belt. I admit, I had already begun to get used to that but my heart was racing the first day of class as we stood to introduce ourselves. I wasn't sure how people or the faculty would react to me being LDS. I am happy to report I was received with warm welcome and sincere interest and questions about my particular theology. It may have helped that the gentleman who introduced himself before me identified as a "Messianic Jew"! At least I wasn't the only one with a unique religious background! Ultimately, the overall diversity of the group (ethnic, religious, professional background) led to a week rich in dialogue and study.

Though I have pages of notes from my week on campus, one thing I found particularity enjoyable was observing others unique reaction to the spirit.  Being LDS, we are known as "cry babies" when bearing our testimonies,  but as a group tend to stay rather reserved and  conservative in our acclimation of praise and witnessing of the spirit. That is something that I hope in time will change. I allowed myself to open up to things diffrent than what I was used to, and told myself I would be willing to accept what the spirit confirmed as genuine. I was surrounded by "amens" "yes brother, yes!"  "preach it" type phrases, gentle head bowings, tears flowing and uplifted hands, laying on of hands for support of others within the classroom, and spontaneous but incredibly sincere prayer.

Prayer on Regent's campus is BOLD, full of the spirit, and sincere-you can almost feel the blessings being called down from Heaven. The miracle of this all is was that we were all Christians of different backgrounds, uniting in study to come closer to Christ. The spirit of the Holy Ghost was THERE. I am still processing what that says about interfaith relations and the uniting power of common beliefs. This experience has left me enlightened and thirsty for more study. Next semester I return to campus for New Testament Studies.

The day I left Virginia, I attended "Gethsemane Community Fellowship Baptist" in downtown Norfolk. I think this was the highlight of my trip. I was happily overwhelmed by the gracious welcome I received by all who came in contact with me. I was the ONLY white sister in attendance (no exaggeration here), and yet, it felt like I had been a part of that congregation for years. No one seemed to notice, so in turn, I didn't notice. The choir was exceptional, the message was strong and the worship was legitimate. The good Pastor left us with the message "Jesus knows the river you are on, and he knows the turns up ahead. There are times when he says 'let me take the oars for this part' because HE KNOWS THE RIVER. He is in the boat with you and knows what is ahead. Trust that and give him the power to steer you!". Amen to that. The songs used in that service are still happily being sung in my head. I would love to see the LDS population open up to some more upbeat worship music. Traditional is wonderful and has its place, but the Lord meant what he said that we should "make a joyful noise unto the Lord"! (Psalms 100:1)

"Lamentation"-Meister von Nerezi (1164)

Lastly, I am happy to report I received a strong "A" on my first major Hebrew word study. I chose the term "lament" or "qina" which means : a mournful song, a lamentation. I studied this term and its usage in the OT and postulated as to why the Lord, in several usages of the term, commanded the people that they should perform a lamentation, and what the benefits of such an experience would be, in terms of turning a people (Israel) back to God. Fascinating study.