As seminary students we often hear the importance of prioritizing our spiritual disciplines in the midst of academia. While we work to maintain a semblance of routine, the rigors of our studies, responsibilities to our families and friends, and the demands of work and ministry often leave very little by way of devoted time with our Lord. We relegate our offerings to the Almighty God to mere leftovers. Yet we know that meditating on God’s Word and praying for our neighbors, praying for the nations, even praying for our enemies, allows us to be centered in Christ. Consequently, everything else in our day is an extension of that gracious encounter with the Almighty.
One of the various ways that Pittsburgh Theological Seminary encourages this sustaining practice is through the Company of New Pastors program. A group of seminary students in their senior year of their theological education who are preparing to enter the ordained ministry in the PCUSA, convene monthly with a faculty member and discuss the meaning of each ordination vow. This group which I am grateful to be a part of, covenants to follow the daily lectionary readings of Scripture as well as the Confessional readings from the Reformed tradition, while being committed to pray for the Church and for one another.
This morning, I was struck by the passages from our daily readings which lifted out themes of healing and renewal by faith (2011 Lectionary Schedule). The Confessional reading today comes from the Westminister Confessions of Faith 6.187-.190, Of the Gospel of the Love of God and Missions. “Christ hath commissioned his Church to go into all the world and to make disciples of all nations. All believers are, therefore, under obligation to sustain the ordinances of the Christian religion where they are already established, and to contribute by their prayers, gifts, and personal efforts to the extension of the Kingdom of Christ throughout the whole Earth.”
I am grateful that in response to these readings, we as students at PTS are afforded the opportunities to live this out faithfully WHILE we are here. We have opportunities to learn about the urban context and urban ministry through the Metro-Urban Institute. We are encouraged to participate in global missions through trips offered by the World Mission Initiative located right here on campus. There are even student organizations like the Peace and Justice group that provide ways to engage in our local community and to give rise to the voice of justice in the world.
It is a privilege to participate in the minstry of Christ through these various means on our campus. However, all that we do for the sake of the Kingdom cannot come from us. When we neglect our own spiritual lives we risk the very work that we have been called to be a part of. The work of the Kingdom happens when we orientate our hearts, our minds, and our lives to the One who was, who is ,and is to come. I’m so glad that I am in a community that teaches me how to do this more faithfully at every turn.
Melanie, senior MDiv student at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary