“Callings”, part 2 (Middle Ages)

“Chronicle of the Crusade of St. Louis” by John de Joinville depicted the life of King Louis IX of France. As King of France, Louis IX did not live luxuriously, for he strived to live as the monks did by praying and attending church regularly, eating bland food, drinking mostly water, and dressed modestly. He was a fair king and was well respected by his subjects, for he worked very hard to maintain peace in his land, especially among the nobles. It was clear that King Louis viewed vocation as something only held by monks and nuns, but he did his best to live as the monks did. He must have done something right because shortly after his death, King Louis IX was recognized as a saint.

The sainthood of King Louis IX demonstrates the notion that one does not need to be a monk to have a vocation, for even though he strived to live as the monks did, he was recognized as a saint and he was never a monk. During this time it was believed that only Monks and Nuns had a vocation, so he had to work harder and accomplished saint status all while being King of France. When King Louis IX of France was recognized a saint an exception was made to the philosophy of the middle ages. Because he wanted to be a monk, he strived to live, dress, eat, sleep, and pray as the monks did because he saw it as the only way to have a vocation.

This illustrates the lengths humans are willing to go in order to answer their call from God. Reading and discussing King Louis IX humbled me, because it exposed me to a new way of thinking, and that is just because one is successful does not mean they are any better than everyone else. For as a king, Louis did not think he was better than everyone else. He humbled himself, which I have trouble doing. I struggle with admitting my faults, because I am ashamed of them. I know I do not have to be, for God has created me the way I am for a reason. As a Christian I must embrace my God-given gifts and once I do so they will be used to serve God.

 

 

“Kingdom Come” by Matthew Webster

“Kingdom Come” is a musical about peoples recollections of and responses to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 told in a lighthearted way. The musical was presented by Concordia University, St. Paul’s department of music, theater and dance. “Kingdom Come” was written by Matthew Webster. His approach to the events of 9/11 was poetic, for he was able to take the audience on an emotional roller-coaster through songs and beautiful story telling. The musical began with the mass choir singing the title song “Kingdom Come,” and the main character taking her place on a raised platform. Now, what’s different about “Kingdom Come” is that it is not performed in a traditional theater setting. It was performed in a black-box, which is a stage that takes up a whole room, so the audience was on stage with the actors and actresses. The set was built so that the audience sat in stadium seating of three rows on all four sides of the room, and in the middle was center stage. The main character sat at the same height as the third row of the audience over looking center stage. The setting of the musical could be interpreted as heaven, and very little is known about the main character. Throughout the musical the main character interviews approximately 10 people about the experiences and memories from September 11, 2001. As each interviewee shares their memories, the audience learns that everyone was affected in a different way, but all were affected nonetheless. During the final scene the audience learns the main character worked in one of the World Trade Centers and was killed in the attacks, and also that the pianist’s character is God-like, for in the last scene the main character and the pianist interact and have a convocation that leads the audience the believe the pianist had been the one to arrange the interviews. I was able to interpret the big picture of the musical by the end, and that is the main character who was killed in the 9/11 attacks cannot make peace with what had happened. So, God tries to help her by sharing the memories of others with her so that she may understand that her death did have meaning; even though it may have been painful and heart breaking there was beautiful to emerge from 9/11, and that is a new understanding of “kingdom come, God’s will be done.”

The musical relates to the focus of the Honors Course this semester, scholarship and learning for the sake of the world, because the events that took place on September 11, 2001 did not affect the United Stated alone, just as an individuals university education does not affect them alone. The focus in Honors this semester is to learn how to be a Christian in today’s society, which is teaching us how to see God working in every aspect of our lives. And on September 11, 2001 God did not go silent. His voice grew louder because it needed to. It was not God’s will for the United States to be attacked, but it was His will for people to slow down in their busy lives and realize how one event can affect the world, because we are all interconnected. And it is God’s will for Christians to have the faith to be the light during dark times such as 9/11.

Seeing “Kingdom Come” helped put into perspective the events of 9/11 for me because I was not even two years old when the terrorists attacked, so I have no recollection of that day. However, my Mom does; she saw the second tower get hit on the news while sitting in her office on the Naval Base of Damn Neck in Virginia Beach, VA. From my understanding, there were rumors that Norfolk and Virginia Beach, VA where also targets on 9/11 because they were along the east coast and just as close to Washington D.C. as New York. Watching the musical put me in my mom’s perspective, especially during a scene when one of the interviewees was talking to her father on the phone, because I know my grandpa loves my mom very much and I can image they had a conversation very similar to that of the one in the musical. So, it was up to my mom to have the faith to be the light to my brother and me during 9/11, because shortly after 9/11 my dad was deployed to the middle east as part of Operation Enduring Freedom, which was in response to the 9/11 attacks. My mom had no way of ensuring my dad would come back alive; all she had was faith. 9/11 taught Christians to have faith in a God who loves us.

Reformation Heritage Lecture

The Reformation Heritage Lecture was given by Rev. Dr. Robert Kolb, a distinguished alumni of Concordia University. According to his biography on the Concordia Seminary, St. Louis website he is currently a professor emeritus of Systematic Theology at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. Dr. Kolb retired in 2009 after 16 years of distinguished service as missions professor of Systematic Theology; he previously served as the director of the Seminary’s Institute for Mission Studies. Prior to joining the Seminary, he served as director of the Center for Reformation Research, and in various teaching roles in the religion and history departments at Concordia College in St. Paul, MN, now known as Concordia University, St. Paul. From 1994 to 2010, he taught abroad, chiefly in post-Soviet Europe, for three months of the year. He received his Master of Divinity and Master of Sacred Theology from Concordia Seminary; also earned a master’s and a doctorate from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He received the honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Valparaiso University; Concordia University in St. Paul; and Concordia University in Irvine. In 2017, he received an honorary doctorate from the Slovak Comenius University in Bratislava (CU), the largest university in Slovakia. Many of Dr. Kolb’s former students and alumni came to hear his lecture, along with a number of current Concordia students, faculty and staff. During the lecture, Dr. Kolb kept the audience intrigued with some light humor.

In his lecture Dr. Kolb discussed how Martian Luther’s interpretation of the Gospel reformed the understanding of vocation. Before and during Luther’s time only those in the ecclesiastical class, monks, nuns, and priests, held vocations. For vocation was interpreted as living a live solely dedicated to serving God, and only the ecclesiastical class did that. Dr. Kolb explained that as Luther studied the Gospel he, Luther, came to realize that a vocation can be held by anyone from any walk of life, for it is not our actions that get us to heaven but rather, because God sent Jesus to us, we are able to go to heaven.

Attending Dr.Kolb’s lecture reinforced my understanding of vocation of a Christian, that no matter where I am in life I have a vocation. And that I am called to show the love and forgiveness of God to others as He shows it to me. My choice of major, Computer Science, does not limit my vocation, nor does it make me less qualified to serve God than a church-work major. And so often I forget that, because I get wrapped in wanting to see results of my vocation instantaneously, which those who go into ministry may experience, and I forget that the smallest action may start a large chain reaction. By making a conscious decision everyday to be kind and show love to others I may be making a bigger difference than what is seen. I could be planting the seed of faith in someone by simply explaining to them what the Honors Program at Concordia University, St Paul is all about. All I have to do is plant the seed, and the Holy Spirt takes care of the rest.

“Callings”, Early Church

Gregory of Nyssa

The Life of Macrina

In this text from Gregory of Nyssa written after 313, he describes the life of his sister, Macrina. He describes her as an angel, for she never lost hope or love for God during the trials of her life. Macrina trials began when she was twelve years old and her fiancé died before they could wed. In the face of death Macrina remained faithful to her engagement, for she saw her father’s intention of pledging her in marriage were equivalent to marriage, and she remained single for the rest of her life. Sometime after the death of her fiancé her brother Naucratius died suddenly. The death of Naucratius took a great toll on their mother, yet Macrina remained strong and unshaken, and her mother became dependent on her for hope. Macrina and her mother’s lives transition into one’s of humility, living equal with the staff of maids with no regard of rank. Macrina lives out the rest of the her days in humility. Even as she lays on her deathbed the fire she has for the Lord does not go out in her heart. Macrina’s life inspired the members of a prominent Christian family might feel called to follow. Her life was an example of how being a woman of wealth that is it possible to live life without the comforts she grew up with, for she made it seem effortless because she did not complain and she willingly chose to live a more austere life.

Macrina lived a life that many during her time and after her time strived to live. She choose the straight and narrow path and made it look like a walk in the park, when it was probably the hardest decision she had to continually make. So often do we look at the lives of fellow Christians and see them living a life dedicated to God and we think how easy it must be for them. For, all we see is the Holy Spirit working through them and what we do not see is their internal spiritual battle. Christians today face the same temptations of sin as Christians who lived 2,000 years ago did, and there has always been one solution. Living a life dedicated to God is an everyday battle that can only by won with the help of the Lord. Living that life has always been difficult, because it challenges an individual to overcome the temptations of sin and live a humble life.

This reading has made me realize how I might be viewed by other volunteers my volunteer sites, The Salvation Army and Bridging. They view me as Gregory views Macrina, because when I explain to them the Honors Service Learning Project they always say how great it is to see young people getting involved in the community and openly sharing their faith. So to them I am a saint, which I most certainly am not. I’m not doing this volunteer work because I want to but because I have; to however, that does not mean I will not volunteer with a positive attitude. If my attitude about volunteering were negative, then I would not be serving God to my fullest potential and I would not be allowing the Holy Spirit to work within and through me to serve others.