21 May 2008

EfM -- Year One

Well, it's official.  The first year of Education for Ministry (EfM) is behind me.  I must say, in all honesty, that this was a great experience.  It wasn't without pain, but great nonetheless.

Why pain?

Each person that takes EfM, in his or her own way, has a theological shift.  Some of those shifts are huge and others are small.  But, at least in our group, there was some kind of theological shift.  And whether great or small, a change in one's theology almost always has some kind of pain involved.  That is, there is some cherished idea that is challenged (at least) or shattered into dust (at worst).  And a cherished belief that changes is painful.

My shift was more of a conscious decision on my part.  I remember distinctly about changing my approach to the support material.  I was sitting in our seminar and listening to the way others presented the material to the group.  (A seminar is just the local group representing all four years coming together for discussion and theological reflection about that weeks lessons.)  In year one, we had some major problems with the support material and we let people know about it.  I, especially, kept bringing up what I have 'always thought' or had 'always been taught' or something along those lines.  You can image how old that gets after a while.

But in the other years, when they talked about their material, they hardly ever talked about those 'problems'.  Now, granted, this could have been because they already had Year One and dealt with all of those issues.  But they focused on the material in a different way.  They brought up new insights or information.  They might make a passing comment about something with which they didn't agree, but, overall, they focused on 'nuggets' that stood out to them.

So, after hearing this for a time, I realized that I was not really trying to grow but was trying to 'change' the support material (and that would not happen).  I decided that I would model myself after the 'upper classmates' and focus on the 'nuggets'.  Oh, I still have plenty to rale against, believe me.  But my focus is not on the differences but the new challenges and the great insights that I have received.  And that has been the greatest insight of all.

I remember talking to an associate of mine and he asked me if I ever thought I would learn all there is to know about the Bible.  I said that I would not and when pressed further I told him that it's like looking at one facet of a large gem stone.  Sure, perhaps I might know all I can about that one facet, but then someone comes and turns the stone and I discover a new facet.  And, perhaps, I might learn all I can about that facet but the gem gets turned again.  Now, this may continue until I learn everything I can about the whole gem.  But then, someone shines a light on it!  And the whole process starts over again.

EfM is like someone turning the gem.  I can't wait until next year when it gets turned some more.

Peace be with you.