What a blessing it is to have returned and be present again with you. I just completed my first two week intensive at Concordia Theological seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana, for my Master of Deaconess studies. It was a blessing to be on campus to meet the other women in my classes. We study and talk with each other online during the rest of the year. To meet in person and get to know each other face to face provided for bonding and a relational context that will serve us well as we continue our studies together.
My cohort and I are taking three classes this winter semester. They are Gospels I, Means of Grace, and Ministry to the Sick and Dying. Another blessing of being on campus together was to learn from our professors in a classroom setting. While our online platform functions very well, these intensives give us the opportunity to ask questions and learn from the faculty in person. We were also able to meet and interact with current and future professors, all to help inform our future conversations in the online classroom.
We stayed in dorms on campus, ate in the cafeteria, worshipped with local congregations on Sundays and with the resident students and faculty in daily chapel services, and attended seminars led by resident and visiting students. A classmate and I attended a seminar by a missionary-pastor who is working on an advanced degree while growing the confessional Lutheran church in Romania. All of these experiences we enjoyed very much.
We experienced record-breaking cold weather that shut the campus down for a day or two for everyone else. However, missing a day of class during an intensive is like missing an entire week during a regular semester. The seminary did everything they could to keep us safe and cared for so that we could continue our studies without interruption. The cold weather and snow allowed me to send a few fun videos back to Brennan and the kids who have never experienced snow. Now they have seen mom make a snow angel and throw boiling water into the air to see snow fall to the ground. Too bad it was too cold to pack snow for a snowball fight or to make a snowman! I flew to Indiana early to get on campus ahead of the winter weather and my family was in various stages of a stomach bug when I left. These things made it hard for me to leave and our daily video calls were the highlight of my day. So, to share the joy that fresh snow brings with them, even through video, is something we will remember.
In addition to our classroom work, we received a special seminar during the weekend between classes. Along with 45 other women who are in various stages of deaconess training, we received certification as respite care givers. Voice of Care (voiceofcare.org) is an LC-MS RSO that exists to equip the Church to nurture people with disabilities and their caregivers in their walk with Christ. I am thankful for this training and the ability to serve through respite care relief.
While on campus and at local congregations, we had the opportunity to wear our deaconess garb (uniform). The uniform is mean to serve as a reminder to us and to those that we serve that the deaconess and her office belong to Christ and that it is His cruciform love which motivates and directs her service. The deaconess uniform is navy blue and white with a cross insignia on the left shoulder. Our student insignias are navy and as commissioned deaconesses, we receive an insignia in gold and a cross pin for our lapel.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve here at Holy Cross and to study to become a deaconess. Your support through prayer, encouragement, and your gifts to my studies are very tangible marks of care for us from the Lord through you.
Just as Paul wrote in his letter to the Philippians, I pray this prayer for you:
“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”