Jonathan David Faulkner
Seminarians, hear me, this is a plea to each of you.
While November brings many good and wonderful things to our plates it is true that for the seminarian that it can be the month of greatest trial as we adjust to the shorter days, pressing deadlines and the coming New England. I know that so many of us have jobs and families and a myriad of Church Responsibilities, we are also wondering about Thanksgiving and Christmas plans. If we are not worrying about that we are worrying about getting all the reading done or the next big paper or whatnot. We are in a daily frenzy and we feel tangibly all that is coming against us and all that is coming up on our full plates
And we are isolating ourselves….
Brothers and Sisters…DON’T!
Please do not isolate yourselves in this busy season. In recent weeks I have been dismayed to see less and less of you in our community spaces or at our community meals. As we get closer to the end of the fall term I see you less and less. When you are seen, it is hurriedly running through the cafeteria to grab a To-Go box to take back to your room. Where once you lined the walls of the Library and sat at the big tables in the center, you have hid yourselves, choosing the silence of your room over a place where you might be interrupted.
Brothers & Sisters, in the four years I have been here it has been only got worse. Last fall there came a time about three weeks in when the people coming to the cafeteria dropped dramatically, when Chapel attendance was nearly non-existent. Brothers and Sisters, this is bad for us, we need each other, we need to be worshiping with one another, we need to be spending time and enjoying fellowship with one another. We are not living in a vacuum, nor were we meant to. We are meant to. You are created to be in fellowship with your creator and with those fellow beings who were, like you, made in His image. You were not made to survive, but thrive.
Sadly though, as I look around at the many faces, those that I still see, I see so many are merely surviving. We have looked at the mountain of work before us, an overwhelming amount that desperately needs to be reduced, and we think the only way to get things done is to bury ourselves in the pile. Some are even feeling completely crushed by it, some can already feel it breaking them. Dear siblings in Christ, you’re not alone, I myself have felt that way so many times in my tenure here. This is the first year I have not had a mid-semester panic attack and subsequent depressive episode wondering if I was going to get it done.
I wonder why we do this, especially given who we are as a whole, the children of the Living God. We are made in His image, we are adopted into His family, we are co-heirs with Christ. We are the people of whom the promises of God have been lavished and realized. Have we forgotten this? Oh, where is our comfort in the midst of stressful lives? Where is our peace when the pressure feels as if it is going to crush us?
Tell me, honestly tell me, do you trust your amazing savior? Do you believe the testimony He has left about himself? Do you believe that God is who He says He is? Do you believe that God will do what He says He will do? Because He is, and He will.
The great and infinite God, the Creator of the entire cosmos, the one who was, is and will forever be, that God loves you infinitely and deeply. He is with you in every moment, He has put His spirit within you, unified Himself with you through Christ. He is constantly with you in the full extent of His might and power, but with His great love.
Sit now son or daughter of God, hear him say to you: “I am with you, I have not abandoned you, you are cherished, your value is in me.” And let yourself let go of any estimation of value that is tied up in grades or in all the toil of this present life. Come out of the darkness that too often accompanies isolation, the loneliness, the stress, the fear, the pain and see that you are one of many, that while Christ lives in you, He also lives in your roommate, your neighbor, your dorm or apartment mates, your campus mates. God has not abandoned you, He is with you and He has given you people who He is also with to be a part of your life, to help you bear the load. To remind you that you are not alone. To pray for you, to walk with you, to worship with you, to talk to you, to listen to you. To encourage you to take up your hobbies and enjoy them through Christ.
Dear child of God, take comfort in this: that God is who He says He is and He will do what He has said He will do. You are not alone, seminary will not crush you, the work will get done, breathe and be gracious with yourself. Your life is more precious than you know and can possibly imagine, to us, but especially to your heavenly father.
Little flock you are loved, come and know that love.