Certainly there are times in most conversations when our own opinions, experiences or suggestions are called for. But when someone asks us an open, honest question—and then listens closely to an unhurried response—we may feel like we’ve been given a precious gift. And this practice works in all aspects of life. We all can benefit from asking open, honest questions—and listening well to the answers.
God mysteriously opened doors for me to serve as the mission coordinator for the Mar Thoma Mission Board. It has been a great privilege to serve in this role right from the very beginning of the Light to Life mission project and it continues to be a truly rewarding experience the more I get involved.
Affirming the new students and their vocational discernment, the Very Rev. Kurt H. Dunkle, Dean and President, said, “Some of you have received a call that was mystical; you can go to a calendar and point at the date you received it. Others have received a bit more of a ‘slow-burn’ call. One thing after another happened over a period of time, and now you are looking around and wondering how you wound up here at New Student Orientation at General Seminary. Regardless of which it is, I want for you to know something. Remember this, each one of you: your call is valid. Your call is valid.”
For the second year in a row, a healthy summer downpour showered the Close until the festivities of the Garden Party began. But the rain did little to dampen the merriment of the occasion. Neighbors and friends of General Seminary sloshed through puddles on 21 Street in their festive summer attire to come together in fellowship. And upon arrival, they were met with hospitality and a lively jazz trio that kept the pace of the celebration.
The Rev. Dr. Matthew Jacobson, Class of 2017, will join the staff of General as Assistant Director of the Chapel of the Good Shepherd beginning Michaelmas term 2019. Jacobson will be responsible for managing day-to-day operations as well as working with students to improve their chapel skills. He will also be part of the team of priests that serves at the altar in chapel.
Jacobson will also continue as an Assisting Priest at the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, NYC, where he has been serving since graduation. Before the call to ordained ministry he earned a BA in biology at Swathmore College and an MD at the Stony Brook School of Medicine. In addition to his background in Medicine, Jacobson has experience in hospital chaplaincy. He has worked at the Rockefeller University, the New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Cornell, and been a Chaplain Resident at Mt. Sinai Hospital.
Almost 12 years ago I purchased a copy of Rowan Williams’s On Christian Theology. I can still remember reading the chapter ‘Between the Cherubim,’ in which Williams compares the empty tomb in John’s Gospel with the empty mercy seat in the temple. Something about these two images of God’s presence in the face of divine absence deeply resonated with me.
Many of my hopes are being realized now. When I began work on this topic during my doctoral studies (in the early 2000’s), there were very few published books that engaged the topic of children in the Bible. Slowly resources began to emerge, but over the past ten years publications have proliferated at an unprecedented rate.
The Sunday following All Saints was an occasion for a special lesson in a parish where I was recently serving in Manhattan. The reading for that day was John 11:32-44, the story of Jesus raising Mary and Martha’s brother Lazarus from the dead. The older children read the passage out loud while the younger children listened. I had questions about how that passage related to the lesson on saints that I had prepared that day, but kept silent about them.
Studying theology is one of the great joys and challenges of being in seminary. When will I have the time to engage the great theologians again at this level? Once I’m in a parish (good Lord willing), how will I be able to carve out the time to read Tanner, Coakley, Farrer, and…Williams? And, if I do find the time, how will I struggle through difficult concepts and challenging ideas without sitting in a classroom with my peers and faculty? With these thoughts in mind, I was hugely comforted when Rowan Williams stated during the Paddock Lectures on February 11th that Thomas Merton, Karl Barth, and Austin Farrer helped keep him sane during his early years of learning theology.