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Students at commencement

Ministry in Context

Our Turning World

My heart shall sing of the day you bring.
Let the fires of your justice burn.
Wipe away all tears, for the dawn draws near,
And the world is about to turn.

Even as the sidewalks are still frozen here in St. Paul, and the ground is way too stiff and snowpiled to even think about planting and harvest, we are in a season of flux. This should come as no surprise to people in our line of work. We know the rhythms of liturgical years as well as program years. Like the slow rotation of the earth, even now we start leaning towards the turning of spring and summer, and the changes and challenges that await us there.

If there’s hope for us to find in the seasons of transition and change (and I believe there is), it is in the presence and participation of God, whose promises endure despite the changing climates of our contexts, and who has called us together into mission to redeem the world through love.   

Though I am small, my God, my all,
You work great things in me,
And your mercy will last from the depths of the past
To the end of the age to be.

Current interns and committees and supervisors have grown to know each other during these past months. Things that may have been forced or formal in the early days are now more natural, as trust and confidence grow. Even as these relationships settle into familiar patterns, however, the year is turning towards the conclusion of internships. If there’s a slope, you are together headed towards the time of transition and parting. You can celebrate this—trusting that the brevity of a year together is balanced by the durable learning and growth you have shared—blessings that will shape your ministries for decades to come.

This saving word that our forebears heard
Is the promise which holds us bound,
Till the spear and the rod can be crushed by God,
Who is turning the world around.

Next year’s interns lean in wonder and hope towards a year yet-to-be imagined. Know that the communities who await your coming share these hopes and fears. They are eager to meet you, to change and be changed by your work and witness among them. They are excited to be a partner in your training as a pastor and your growth as a person. We will work to make matches and placements that honor the gifts and desires of all (students, supervisors, and congregations) in the internship mix; we trust that God is also patiently and purposefully at work in these relationships.

Luther Seminary is currently in a season of turning as well. Elements of our institution’s life which we took for bedrock seem nowadays more slippery and fluid. Each day confronts many of us with the reality that we are sailing uncharted waters. God has blessed us in this moment with extraordinary leaders and teachers who recognize the seriousness of the moment and are creatively bringing many resources and gifts into the work we face. We persist in faith, training leaders for God’s church, trusting that the One who has called us is faithful, and that our labor is not in vain.

My heart shall sing of the day you bring.
Let the fires of your justice burn.
Wipe away all tears, for the dawn draws near,
—And the world is about to turn.

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