A Quick Update

Last week was CRAZY. I spent much of my week on two big projects: planning a powerpoint-led, multisensory prayer station, praise band, candle-filled alternative worship service for last night; and trying to write a sermon (turns out that it's harder than you'd think to say something meaningful about the "if you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could tell the trees to uproot themselves and toss themselves into the sea" text).

Things here in Rockford are good. These first three months have been a time of big transitions for the church itself, and I've had to strike a balance between facilitating some of them and just going along for the ride. At this point, things are the calmest they've been since I got here. We're settling into our new worship schedule, for the most part, and there have been flickers of hope for our dying high school youth group.

It's still a pain to be separated from Matt, but we're hanging in. I know that I am more functional than I was back at PTS when we first got married and were living apart (perhaps I am just so busy these days that I don't have time to wallow?), but I think that it's harder on him this time around. He's busier and under more stress than ever, and it gets lonely. We're 1/4 of the way through this year apart, and I think it's safe to say that we've already started the countdown to my move back to Chicago.

The "biggest" news these days, which isn't all that big, and it's not really news, is that I have officially begun the process of applying to Ph.D programs for either fall of 08 or 09. I know that I've hinted at it around the blog, but I'm not sure that I ever officially tossed the idea out there. I'm still discerning what my call is, and at this point, I don't know that I'm definitely going to pursue the degree even if I get into programs, but at this stage in the game, I feel compelled to keep my options open. I'm trying to figure out if getting ordained and getting a PhD are going to be mutually exclusive endeavors, if I want to do them in succession (but which one first??), if I want to try to do them concurrently (if the ELCA would give me a part-time first call in the same locale as my academic program...ha...), or if there's another combination of these two things that I haven't thought of yet! If anyone has any advice or wisdom for me, please share...

I've already taken the GRE, I'm furiously revising one of my better papers from seminary to submit as a writing sample, and I've started contact with potential references. I have to say that I'm sort of going all-or-nothing with my applications. I'm mostly applying to schools where I'm a long shot to get in, not because I'm terribly concerned with status, but more because there aren't as many schools offering Ph.D's in my potential concentration(s) as I'd want, and because (for a variety of reasons) I'm only really available to apply for schools in the Chicago area. So I'm applying to the University of Chicago (in theology), Notre Dame (in liturgics), Loyola University Chicago (in theology), and then, because it's nice to have an absurd dream school that transcends other geographic limitations, I'm applying back to PTS (in history of worship...yup...they offer it under the guise of either church history or history of doctrine).

So...prayers appreciated on this venture. It's a tough one - if I had known at the beginning of my M.Div that I was going to end up pursuing a Ph.D, I probably would have done some things differently. I'm a bit nervous about getting into schools, and a bit nervous about what I'll feel about ordination if I don't get into programs, and a bit nervous about what I'll feel about ordination if I DO get into programs.

But for the time being, I take comfort in knowing that I don't have to decide anything until next spring. For now, I will enjoy my internship, work on applications, look forward to weekends with Matt, and continue to take life one day at a time (because really, I can't plan much farther ahead than that!).


  1. WHAT?!?!?!?!

    You led an alternative worship service?!?!


    Remember this??

    :) Just kidding. I'd love to see photos.

    Sarah is starting the application process in as well - taking the GRE next week - and is not looking forward to the process. Good luck to you in the process!

  2. I'm not quite sure what to say here! I admit it: I led an alternative worship service.

    However, I don't know that the old post of which you speak directly challenged the alternative quality of the worship experience as much as it expressed my frustrated initial encounter with the "definition" of the emerging church movement and my grappling with the theology of "being with Christ" rather than "Christ being with me."

    That being said, I felt secure in doing prayer stations in the context of an evening prayer service, but I don't think I would feel as comfortable doing something like that on, say, a Sunday morning. It felt like evening prayer, but not necessarily like worship, if that makes any sense.

  3. Melissa,

    In case you have questions about Notre Dame, I'm currently studying there for an MA in early Christian studies and would be happy to help if I can. My wife, Jamie and I, currently live in Chicago. Unfortunately, however, I haven't made Max Johnson's acquaintance, and I am not so much involved in the history of liturgy programming, but I'd be happy to help if I can.

    Best wishes on a good round of applications. Let me know if I can help in any other way besides praying for you.

    Take care!

    Kellen Plaxco