A time for study and renewal
January 6, 2017 by Lee Hinson-Hasty
For most of my time as a pastor and Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) staff member, I have been a member of one or more ministry cohorts – as have many throughout the church.
This is something of a ritual, and a much cherished time of both reflection and preparation. It’s a communal Advent, Christmas and Epiphany combined, if you will, preparation, gift, and revelation all rolled into one.
My current group gathers in the bleak midwinter of January to present and discuss lectionary-based exegetical papers for the coming year and our thoughts on what scripture has to say today to the Church and our communities. We invite a professor, usually in Bible, theology, or homiletics to present as well and weigh in on our papers. The resulting joy and hope, laughter and tears, regularly sustain me for one more trip around the sun.
What cohorts are like
If you are in a group, I’d love to hear about yours! You can drop me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’d like to start a group, see MaryAnn McKibben Dana’s instructive and popular blog post on how to do it here. She affectionately calls it “preacher camp,” which I love.
For many groups, some of the relationships started in seminary, and others have been invited to meet the goals of the group and mix things up. An ideal group isn’t a clique of like-minded theologians, but a mixture of deep thinkers and practicioners who push us and challenge our ideas of God within and outside our tradition. A great group is one that deeply trusts each other enough to confirm what we believe God may be saying as well as respectfully disagree.
Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and seminar tables become sacred places where God is tangibly present and the embraces of the passing of the peace embody forgiveness and love.
My wish for 2017
Forgiveness, love, sacred places, and deep study. Those are my wishes for you and yours in 2017. Let’s support ourselves and other ministers, current and future, for sake of the Church and for God’s sake.