Complete first day of seminary? CHECK! I am a pre-Junior, which in seminary terms means that I am a pre-first year student, as the official first year hasn’t started, and won’t start until September. However, I consider that I have started seminary, as a whole number of things are very different from my undergrad days at Smith. Firstly, I had to attend orientation this morning, which included all students, regardless of whether or not they were new. At the beginning of this orientation session, we had worship. Not the type of worship that my small InterVarsity fellowship had in college, but the more familiar, more comforting style much like that of the church in which I was raised. We sang traditional hymns, passed the peace, read from the Word, and received encouragement. What was different than usual, however, was the sheer enthusiasm everyone had for ministry and for PTS in general. Both staff and students alike seemed so happy to be back, or to be entering for the first time (like myself). I felt so comfortable sitting in a room with others who worshipped the way that I did, knew the same responses, liturgy, everything. It felt, to be most blunt, like returning home. While it is only the first day, I feel more at home here than I have at any other place (besides the home I was raised in).
A second huge difference was the number of offices devoted solely to helping people like me navigate the twisted roads toward a career in ministry. There are people whose only job is to help me figure out what I have to do to become ordained RCA and get a job. They understand the requirements I have to fulfill, and the steps that are necessary to take. They seem to truly understand what we are going through, and unlike Smith at times, actually appear to care whether or not we get there.
And then…Greek started. I have to say that I was hesitant and nervous (to say the least) about beginning class so quickly after having just graduated from college. (Just a short 8 weeks ago, from yesterday to be specific) I was expecting a challenge unlike any I had yet navigated. But no! My professor is filled with enthusiasm, life, excitement for the subject that he teaches, and what is more, he wants to see each and every student succeed and go on to be the best minister, teacher, social worker, etc they can possibly be. Where does such an enthusiasm come from? I was shocked to see how much time he spent explaining things, rather than just telling us to go and look for the answers in a textbook or dictionary. He explains in every way possible until we understand. Shocking!
But perhaps the most shocking thing about the day thus far happened in the middle of my Greek class. He was busy talking about Greek in context, and all of a sudden, he mentioned that it was similar to being a Christian. Stop, hold the phone! No one else seemed phased by the mention of faith openly in the classroom. Had this happened at Smith in some circumstances, others would have felt offended, and responded accordingly. But here, everyone for the most part is a Christian, and having such a discussion isn’t outlandish or out of the question. I think this is something I’m going to have to get used to the most, because at Smith, the discussion of religion happened only through academic means, and rarely in the classroom, with the exception of the Religion Department. People aren’t afraid to talk about their faith within context. I love that faith exists on campus, and that much of the goings-on relate to my faith and that of the other students. But it appears evident that the professors and students don’t think it to be necessary to discuss prayer or scripture or the church constantly. It isn’t as important as making friends and forming bonds with other like-minded people. That is what makes it different here from at Smith in some ways.
I have been both told and asked about the fact that because I’m going to seminary, prayer will happen over anything and everything. And let me tell you: as far as I’ve gone into seminary (and yes, that is only one day, thanks), if it hasn’t happened thus far, I don’t think it will happen on a regular basis. My professor didn’t open up or close class with a prayer of his choosing. It didn’t seem to be that important to his presentation and teaching of the material. In his eyes, or so it seemed, his goal was to help us master Greek as best as possible in an 8 week period. Not to help us best enrich our prayer lives, or to pray for/with us.
Do I love it here so far? Absolutely! I’ve met some cool ladies (and gentlemen too!), and I can’t wait to continue with my classes and get to know my professors, tutors and other floor mates! GO Alexander Hall!
More to come later, time to study for my Greek quiz tomorrow!