Today I woke up remembering that last night I bought a box of Hungry Jack pancake mix. Yes! The long day ahead was off to a good start. Three silver dollar pancakes and a mug of coffee later, I was out the door. Grace, my three-year-old friend and I spent the morning playing “hop stops” (hopscotch), tea party, and dance party. We ended the morning with a “picmic” on the living room floor.
I love being a seminary student—learning from and hoping to become more like, Christ; but I also love it because I get to babysit a lot. I’ve been with Grace and her family since Grace was fifteen months old. After a week of reading and class discussions, the innocent musings of a no-nonsense child are a breath of fresh air and a reminder of Jesus’ words: “the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
We finished our “picmic” and I left with high hopes of making it to my class, The Captivity Letters, on time. I congratulated myself on the way for having gotten up in time for breakfast because this Thursday, like most other Thursdays, there would be no time for lunch. I made it to class on time and was greeted by Van, who makes learning fun; Britt who makes me thankful for people with gifts of pastoral care; and Katie, who restores my hope in the church as the body of Christ on earth. We learned under the influence of a great New Testament scholar and professor and after finding a good place to stop, we were dismissed.
“You sound sad,” my advisor remarked as we talked about graduation in May. “I am,” I said. “Kind of.” I relayed to him the fact that when I came to seminary I was trying to get a degree and get out, but in the course of my time here I managed to find my voice and I want more time. I left his office and headed to my car to start the second half of my Thursday routine: lunch/dinner at Subway near church where I study until church time so as to minimize time spent in traffic that could be spent studying. I got a Veggie Delite sub and worked on my sermon for the preaching festival in January.
I headed to church, heard a great lesson from friend and fellow student, Mary, then practiced with the choir. There’s something about singing in a sanctuary, whether or not it’s Sunday morning. Being with people who love the Lord and are obviously passionate about their faith does wonderful things for my soul. Thursday afternoons and nights have become Sabbath for me in a way; study time before church helps to ground me and keep stress levels low and our mid-week Bible study is always uplifting to me.
There’s something about being inside this worship space that grounds and inspires me. The pulpit where I preached my first church sermon, the communion table, the cool air and the smell of the building are each tied to a specific memory of milestones in or mentors of my faith, and each Thursday makes me thankful for seminary, for the church, for Jesus.
Today I had to pep-talk myself out of bed with thoughts of fluffy pancakes. I’m glad I did, because every day, whether through my tiny friend Grace, or gifted classmates and professors, God continually gives me the gift of hope for future ministry and for each day. Tonight, I go to sleep excited for May and for my ministry now and in the future.
Sara Robb is a student at McAfee School of Theology, Atlanta, Georgia.