Sunday, December 31, 2006

Fast away the old year passes

Last day of 2006 and I preached. You can view my sermon here. The Gospel for today is John 1:1-18, one of my favorites. It was easy for find preaching topics. The harder part was narrowing the focus. I got good reviews from the congregation, which added to the gift of preaching today.

I took the GRE (Graduate Record Exam) Wednesday and got good scores on the multiple choice part, Math and Verbal. I have to wait two weeks to find out how I did on the writing part. There are two timed essays. Having to write on a 45 minute and 30 minute deadline was very challenging for me. I’m glad the essay part was at the start. I would have been even harder to compose those essays after answering around a hundred tough questions. The computer GRE is set up so that when you answer a question right, the next one is harder. I’m glad I know that going into the test. At the end of the test I did not think I did well.

At the end of the test you are presented with a choice. You can cancel the test and have your scores not recorded or you can accept the test and see your scores. You have to make this choice without knowing what your score is. When you make your choice, you get another screen asking if you are sure this is what you want to do and they spell out again what your choices are and the consequences of each. You go through two more times before you come to the screen that says that your choice will be final when you click this button. I was sure I wanted to know my score. If it was bad, I wanted to know that so I could move on to plan B. Still I took a deep breathe before I clicked the button. I could not believe what I saw. I scored a hundred points more then I needed for the MA program. I wish I could have written them down, but they do not allow you to take any paper out of the testing room. You are only given pencils to write with so I could not write the scores on my hand. If I had tried that, I’m sure they would have invalidated my test. There is strict confidentiality around the test questions and every test taker is video taped while in the testing room.

Both places I applied to for Clinical Pastoral Education turned me down. It is very completive here in the Bay Area with seminarians from nine seminaries vying for positions. The CPE training programs want diversity in their summer intern groups so very qualified applicants may not get positions. I now going for plan B, applying to the CPE program at St. Luke’s in Boise. I talked to their CPE supervisor and he strongly encouraged me to apply. It is a good program and I think I have a good chance of getting in. It would be nice to spend ten weeks in Boise, with one exception. Teresa would not be with me in Boise. :-(

I wish all of you a Happy and Blessed New Year. May this year bring peace where there is discord and violence, light where there is darkness, joy to all sorrowing hearts.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

3 down, 3 or 5 to go

My third semester of seminary is over. Completely over. No incompletes. All papers done. What has been read has been read. What is not been read has not been read. I finish the semester in good shape both academically and physically. I can take a brief breather before I go on to the next Fun Thing, taking the GRE's. I am applying for a master's of arts in theology with emphasis on Christian spirituality. That means I will be down here yet another year and it means I will leave here with more options available to me in terms of ministry. I need to pass the GRE’s first though, so I appreciate all your prayers for me on December 27th. I will be taking them between 12 noon and 4 p.m. Pacific Standard Time.

In the meantime I'm also waiting to hear if I will have a summer Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) position. I also appreciate your prayers about this too.

This afternoon is clear and cold, that is cold for Berkeley. The temperature is in the 40s. The sun goes down quite early down here. It's dark, dark, dark by five o'clock. Twilight is very short. Still, there are flowers blooming. It's always spring in Berkeley. As I look out my window I can see trees with green leaves and trees which have dropped all their leaves. Just a block from here there are trees with their autumn colors. That's one of the fun things about Berkeley, even though it's always spring here, there is an autumn that lasts a long, long time.

It is the third Sunday in Advent and Christmas is only a week away! I hope you all will take some time to be still reflect wonderful mystery of God coming to us in human form. Many we all remember that in the Christian calendar, Christmas is a season, not just a day. It is a season of opening to the gift of God coming to us in human forms and in so many other ways in every day. Let us be awake and alert to the ways God comes to us and let us give thanks and praise.