“Callings”, Reformation

John Calvin was a Protestant and the founder of Calvinism. He interpreted the “general calling”, the calling to be a Christian, as an invitation of faith to all. And he interpreted the “special calling”, the calling to a particular vocation, as only working in the hearts of the elect to bring them to faith. Calvin’s doctrine of predestination teaches God predestines some, the elect, to salvation and all the others to damnation. His logic behind predestination is to give all the credit to God, for nothing humans do can earn them salvation, so predestination is an explanation of God’s unearned and undeserving grace. During Calvin’s religious leadership in Geneva his goal was to make the city a monastery that would have been the best of the medieval times, a secluded community of Christians.

The doctrine of predestination does not settle well for most Lutherans, because we know that no one is destined to damnation so long they accept the Holy Spirit into their hearts and truly believe in Christ. For Martin Luther explained in Temporal Authority it is the responsibility of every individual to determine what is right and wrong to believe. Calvin’s understanding of vocation and his doctrine of predestination stress the importance that salvation cannot be earned. He saw predestination as the only way to fully credit God with our salvation, for there is absolutely nothing we as humans can do to earn salvation. Calvin’s teaches may have been sincere to credit God with our salvation however, he taught the kingdom of God was denied to some and no matter how earnestly they repented they could never have salvation because they were not elected. Today Christians must remember that everyone is chosen by God to have salvation and no one is denied salvation because by His grace we are saved. All we have to do is open our hearts to allow the Holy Spirit in and through the Holy Spirit we will live lives of service to our neighbors, which is serving God. Also, Calvin had the right idea when he wanted Christians to live in community with each other, because we need the community of fellow Christians to grown in our faith. But the Christian community should not be secluded as Calvin wanted it, because Christians would not be able to serve our non-Christian neighbors.

If John Calvin’s teaching were followed then organization like Bridging and the Salvation Army would not exist because the Christians who founded and operated the organizations would life isolated from the non-Christians they serve. They do not solely service non-Christians, but that’s why they were founded. When I volunteer at Salvation Army and Bridging I do not know if the clients I work with are Christian or not because there is no way I can tell with the little time of interaction I have with them. But it does not matter if they are Christian or not because I am there to serve them, to be hope, kindness and joy, to show them love just as God shows me.

Concordia University Ceramics Biennial 2018


“Window Dressing” by Eileen Cohen

The Concordia University Ceramics Biennial is an art gallery curated by Korla Luckeroth Molitor that features ceramic art. One of the featured artist, Eileen Cohen, created this piece called Window Dressing, which caught my eye for it stood out to me, because when I think of ceramics I do not think of bows on a wall, in fact it think of pottery. The artist had written a description for this piece, in the description she talks about how one associates bows with being girly but she wanted to give the bows a masculine vibe to them. She gave the bows a sense of masculinity by painting them black with slightly dull finish. I believe Eileen Cohen’s underlying meaning in this piece is that there is always two sides to everything, nothing is one sided with one perspective. She achieved portraying her purpose by creating ceramic art that is not solely pottery and creating masculine bows.

Being ceramic artist and artist in general requires interdisciplinary learning just as the Honors Program at Concordia University, St. Paul. Because artists have to understand perception, how shadows work, angles, color theory, there are many components to a piece of art and many steps to achieve each component to create the art. Similarly in the Honors Program we do not focus on a particular subject, many people who do not completely understand what the Honors Program is think it is only about theology or there are separate classes for us “smart Honors Student” to take. In a way both are correct, because the Honors Program is a “special” class we take and it purpose is to connect faith with learning, to show that God is present in every subject matter.

Going to the ceramic biennial gave me a new found appreciation for art. Before I had thought everyone is an artist in their own way so I didn’t understand what’s so great about art. But taking the time to read the description of Eileen Cohen’s art work allowed me realize that this, making art with ceramics, is her life, it’s her calling, she has found the place where her “deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet” (Frederick Buechner quoted in Callings, 3). She has found what I am still searching for. There are times when I think I have figured out where God is calling me to, but just as things make scenes in my life everything falls apart, things go wrong or not go the way I want/thought they should have gone, and I find myself slipping into depression. And I let myself stay there, in depression, because I have lost motivation to do much of anything. I let the darkness consume me, and I fall deeper in. Only to hit rock bottom, but that’s alright, because God is The Rock and He is leading me back to Him. It takes the world knocking me down to allow God to lift me back up. And as long as I live my life with Him as my guide I have found my calling and answered it.


The Concordia University, St. Paul Concert Band’s Spring Concert

“Concordia University, St. Paul’s Concert Band’s spring concert was beautiful, and the clarinet section sounded phenomenal.” I say as a member of the concert band in the clarinet section. Aside from my biased opinions, the concert and tour went very well. While on tour the band members were able to form closer friendships which in turn improved our performances. That happened because as the friendships formed and grew members of the band became more aware of other members. During performance as musicians we are more aware of what’s going on around use, so we balance our sounds and blend to each other creating beautiful music. There were two songs in particular when the band had peaked, Beside Still Waters and Wayfaring Stranger. Both songs had deep spiritual means which allowed the band to connect on the songs. For each musician put emotion into the music and they felt connected to piece, which then allowed the band to connect bring the music to life.

Being a musician is a calling, being a band member is a calling. Each individual in has multiple callings just as each member of the band has multiple responsibilities. Every member is responsible for making sure they are in tune with their sections and with the whole band, they are responsible for the care of the instrument, for learning the music, and for playing their part. A composition of music consists of different parts for each instrument section. For example the part the tuba plays is not going to be the same part the piccolo plays. And then within internment sections there a different parts. For instance there is generally three parts for clarinet, part one plating mostly melody and part three plating counter melody and harmony. The Concordia University, St. Paul concert band is not a very large ensemble, so most of time it is one person per part. That puts more responsibility on the musicians who are the only ones playing that part, because every part is important for if were not important then it would not have been written. The same goes for those who are answering the call to be a Christian, because God created each one of us with a purpose and the is to do everything in service to Him and to our neighbors, and if we do not do so then we are missing out on the wonders of Gods doing.

Music has always been apart of my life for as long as I can remember, from when I was a baby my parents would play classical music while slept to being involved in almost every instrumental group at Concordia University, St. Paul. And it has always been apart of how I worship. My parents, brother, and I are all involved in the music groups at our church in Virginia. My mom is the hand bell director and my dad, brother, and myself play in the praise teams and in hand bells when my mom needs us to. So I have always known music to be a form of worship and that God has given me the gift of music to worship Him. But band tour and being in band at here at CSP has taught that music can be used for more than worshiping God. Music can be used to plant the speed of faith in peoples heart, for sometimes they need to hear the right song and the right moment or they feel moved by the music. Even though my major in not music however, I might minor in it, I fully intent to keep music in life for as long as I can because God has given me this gift and I shall use it for His glory. Because, if I do not use the gifts God has given me than I am not doing my part as a Christian to serve Him and my neighbors in everything I do.            

“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.

MLK Service Day

On Monday, January 15, 2018 Concordia University, St. Paul organized a day of service for students to participate in; attendance was not required, but encouraged. The students who participated were assigned to a volunteer site in which their interests were taken into consideration when assigning them to a site, so that they may contribute to their fullest potential. The purpose of the “day on” was to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his impact on the Civil Rights Movement. His teachings on peace and loving one another still resonate today, for the MLK Service Day was a day for CSP students to give back to the community and potentially to inspire us to want to give back all year round. I was assigned to go to Bridging. Bridging is located in Roseville, MN and provides good quality home furnishings to individuals and families who can not afford the them, in hopes to give them dignity and a sense of self-worth. All of Bridging’s clients have been referred to them by a social service and just acquired housing but have an annual income of $15,000 or less, so they can not afford furnishings. The group assigned to Bridging was split into two small groups by the volunteer coordinator. One group, consisting of mostly guys and athletes, helped by moving large furniture items on and off moving trucks. The other group, consisting of myself and mostly girls, helped by organizing silverware sets and ripping linen into strips to be used to tie around rolled up blankets, sheets, and comforters.

Going to Bridging for the MLK service day introduced me to a location at which I can volunteer at for the Honors Service Learning Project. Starting on Thursday, January 25 I will be volunteering at Bridging at least once a week for two hours in the mornings. At Bridging I will be a shopping assistant to the clients. My job will be to walk through the warehouse with them, helping them pick out furniture and other household items, mainly making sure they get everything they need and want. I will be there make sure the clients feel like they have a say in the process, for Bridging values dignity. The founder of Bridging does not agree with the sayings “something is better than nothing” and “beggars can’t be choosers” and does not want those sayings to be associated with Bridging, because the sayings dehumanize the clients, implying that they have no opinions or preferences in the items what will be going into their home. So, my volunteer work at Bridging is vocation, for I will be the hands and feet of God for the clients by giving them hope and relief, by showing them love and compassion, and by sharing the gift of God with them.

Learning about Bridging’s mission statement made me think about how society views and treats the humanity of those in poverty and homelessness. Obviously, they have physical needs that are more or less meet by many non-profit organizations, but how many of those organizations are also meeting the non-physical needs of those experiencing poverty and homelessness? Bridging is the first one I have learned about that focuses on the humanity of the clients. Up until MLK day, I had never thought about providing for the non-physical needs or that both needs can be meet at once. I am ashamed to admit this, but I had always thought the homeless and those in poverty should be grateful for whatever help or handouts they receive because after all “beggars can’t be choosers”. In no way is what I thought true, for it was ignorant of me not to realize their humanity. Attending to the physical needs of those is homelessness and poverty is just as important as attending to their non-physical needs, for Jesus not only stopped a women who committed adultery from getting stoned but He also forgave her sins (John 8:1-11). He attended to both her physical and non-physical needs, and as a Christian I must to do the same thing to the best of my ability as it is part of vocation.


Martin Luther and the Called Life, chapter 2, Luther: His Road To Vocation

During Martin Luther’s time in the 1500’s monks, nuns, and priests were seen as the only people who had a vocation, for they were called to a higher life in which the purpose of a vocation is preparing the soul for the next life. And the forgiveness of sins was something that was worked for, not freely given. And Jesus was viewed as a judge. In order for people’s sins to be forgiven, they had to perform the sacrament of penance, where sins are confessed privately to a priest then a “penance” is assigned for a satisfaction of the sins to be made. The degree of the penance varied in correspondence to the severity of the sin. Because of penance, it was very difficult for anyone who was not a monk, nun, or priest to fully receive forgiveness, for no matter how hard they tried, they could never do enough good works that were good enough. And with that Martin Luther began to question the understanding of vocation in the church.

In chapter two of Martin Luther and the Called Life Luther’s reforming views on vocation are explained, as well as how Luther came to his new understanding. And it is those views that we have today, that vocation is serving God in every accept of live, no matter one’s occupation.

Martin Luther came to a new understanding of vocation during his time in the monastery. His understanding of vocation is that every Christian has a vocation, and that vocation is serving of God in every aspect of life. Luther also came to realize that every Christian has more than one calling. Luther explains that every Christian has a vocation because no matter of one’s occupation, God is still being served. And those whose occupations are outside of the church are able to have vocations because they do not have to work to earn forgiveness; rather their work is service to God because they are forgiven.

My major is Computer Science with a minor in mathematics, and I am in the Honors Program at Concordia, in which many students are church work majors. In fact the all members of the freshman Mu Honors class are not church work majors, and all most of sophomore Lambda Honors members are church work majors, which puts them at an advantage when discussing theology but that does not mean they’re closer to God than the freshman. That is not the attitude they have by any means; the sophomore class is actually extremely helpful. And chapter three of Martin Luther and the Called Life taught me that just because I am not a church work major doesn’t not mean I can’t devote my life to Christ. My understanding of being a Christian is to be the hands and feet of God, to show kindness and compassion and forgiveness to all those I encounter in life. Regardless of occupation, God can be served in every walk of life.                    

Jazz Concert

The Vox 9 and Blue Rondo Jazz Concert was preformed by students, myself included, and a few faculty members to show case the musical talents of the students. I am a member of the Blue Rondo Jazz band, and I play the tenor saxophone, bass guitar, and bass clarinet. I play more than one role in the band, for when I am playing bass guitar my role is completely different than when I am playing tenor sax or bass clarinet. Just like as the book Networked described how people have different roles in each social circle they are apart of. Someone is not going to be the leader in every social they are apart of, just as in a band each instrument sections takes turn taking the melody. Humans take on different social roles depending on their social settings.

Preforming in this concert taught me the importance of understanding the different roles each  instrumental sections has. When I played bass guitar my role musically was very different from when I played tenor saxophone. Then when I played bass clarinet my role was different from when I played tenor saxophone, for I had solo an bass clarinet. And I am not a fan of soloing, because I am not very good. But, the point of a solo is to play anything with in the key of the music, and in society they are not any social roles like that. All social roles have expectations and standers, whereas an improvised solo does not. Which I why I dislike solos, because there are very few guide lines and rules to follow.